HANCEVILLE, Ala. – Cook Ministries is a Hanceville-based street ministry that was created by Karen Cook in 2016 after the death of her brother Johnny on November 8, 2015.
Karen has been a funeral director for the past 20 years, giving her extensive experience with grief. However, nothing could have prepared her for her brother’s death. Karen states on her website, “Perhaps it’s still my personal grief of what I couldn’t do for my brother, I can try to do for someone else but most importantly I’m learning to allow God to use me, no matter what the circumstances are that surround me. God use me to make a difference, use me in the midst of my own faults and failures, use me and I’ll go.”
Karen started Cook Ministries in her brother’s name to help others going through the same grief she was.
Karen said, “When it first started, we were only doing three or four suicide awareness events a year.” Now the ministry has several programs including a support group, recovery class and a food basket.
Cook’s Ministries programs:
- Hope’s Anchor- a recovery class addressing addictions of any type including substance (drug and alcohol) abuse, depression, suicidal ideations, mental/physical abuse.
- Katelyn’s Story- an online grief support group providing emotional support, validation and education about grief.
- Standing in the Gap- a ministry of women for women to build relationships and worth.
- The Food Basket- A food ministry designed to feed the hungry while showing the love of Christ.
Karen continued, “God has strategically placed people in front of me to facilitate everything that is happening in this ministry.” Cook stated that Jennifer Clark, who helped to create the Standing in the Gap program “has such a desire to help women, and to help women find their worth and learn who they are.” The recovery program Hope’s Anchor was created because of Cook’s daughter, Hope’s desire to help others. The food basket is also possible through the help of silent partners within the community who deliver food to people in need. Cook said, “We don’t have a place where people come to get food every month, but if you need food, we will get you food.” Karen’s close friend Leah Ann McCollins allows Cook Ministries to use her business, Arise Coffee Co., to hold meetings. Karen commented about Leah, “She has been a great asset, and she’s just a great person.”
The program Katelyn’s Story is a new grief support group that was named in memory of Katelyn Wynell Quick (February 7, 2000 – April 8, 2021) who tragically passed due to complications with end stage kidney failure. Karen is friends with Katelyn’s mother, who wanted to create a support group to tell Katelyn’s story and to help others going through intense grief. Katelyn’s Story has had a few meetings at Arise Coffee Co., but the group is going to switch to fully online. Cook said that there are so many people who are more comfortable doing online meetings than in-person. The program already has a private Facebook group for the grief support members: https://www.facebook.com/groups/katelynsstory/.
Cook is a veritable expert in grief and helping others cope with grief. In addition to her many years of being a funeral director, Cook has had training with American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. She also had to study grief in mortuary school. There are many resources about grief found on Cook’s website: https://cook-ministries.com/resources.
Cook stated, “We want to help others heal. If you look at what we all face in life and the things that we’re dealing with in our ministry, from suicide, domestic violence, grief, recovery, its all about helping other people.”
Starting in February, the Standing in the Gap group will meet on the first Monday of every month at 6:00 p.m. at Arise Coffee Co.
The Hope’s Anchor classes will meet on the third Thursdays also at 6:00 p.m. at Arise Coffee Co.
On August 30, Cook Ministries will be holding an event for Grief Awareness Day at Veteran’s Memorial Park in Hanceville called Grief to Grace. Cook said, “We will recognize that we have grief, but also that we have God’s grace.”
Cook Ministries does not yet have a physical building. Karen says that the group has been looking for an office space, but until then they will meet at Leah’s Arise Coffee Co., located at 113 Commercial St. Hanceville.
To learn more about Cook Ministries programs visit https://cook-ministries.com/.
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