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Calls from the Woods provide a listening ear

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If your phone rings, it may be the Sisters of Providence calling! There’s no better way to keep out the winter chill than to talk with our friends and supporters.

It’s February so it must be time for the annual phonathon at the Sisters of Providence! As a volunteer caller and Providence Associate, it’s a pleasure for me to call and talk with our supporters, whether their gift is $5 or $500. Each gift makes a difference in our mission and ministries.

When I begin dialing, I’m a bit rusty and it takes me several calls to sound natural and friendly. And, I admit, I have to psyche myself up to call. I used to be in sales and would contact businesses for $100,000+ ad campaigns. However, there’s something about calling sweet senior citizens at home that is a bit more harrowing to me, because I don’t do it often enough.

People are nice and glad to hear from the Sisters of Providence, even after I tell them that I’m not a sister. Calling during the phonathon reminds me that I’m furthering our relationship with these folks, rather than just asking for a donation. Many times they’ll share personal struggles or prayer requests for family and friends. I hope to be an extension of the sisters’ mercy when I remind them that, rest assured, the sisters pray for them daily. We forward these prayers to a sister who enters them into the Saint Mother Theodore Shrine intention book.

It’s great to hear about the relationships that people have built with the sisters over the years. One woman told me she had made quick friends over the phone with Sister Mary Rita Griffin, coordinator of the Our Lady of Providence shrine. The donor had recently gone through a hard time and Sister Mary Rita had prayed with her, and kept in touch. She is an alum of the college, will be attending the 50th anniversary this summer at the Woods, and wants to connect with Sister Mary Rita in person when she’s here, since she’s been such a comfort to her. Sister Mary Rita just happened to be calling donors down the hall so I passed along the message. She’s going to call the woman to check in, since the women’s sister is in a dying state.

A sister was calling next to me and I heard her comfort a donor who had a Down Syndrome adult child who was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. The woman cried and shared her story with Sister Kathleen, who assured her of the sisters’ prayers for the woman and her family. God’s comfort and mercy comes in many forms and at times our calls to donors seem “Providential.”

People tell us fond memories about the sisters who taught them and they’ll ask how the sisters are doing. One donor that I talked with pledged $100 and then asked me to hold on for a moment. She came back to the phone and told me her sister who is now living with her also wanted to pledge $25. That’s a first for me!

If you haven’t been contacted yet, or would like to donate to this year’s phonathon via our website, you can do so now. Each gift is very much appreciated. And, if you’re unable to give, would you consider keeping the sisters and their ministries of outreach to others in your prayers? Let’s keep the relationship of mercy and healing moving forward. God bless all of our supporters!

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Diane Weidenbenner

Diane Weidenbenner is the annual fund manager and donor relations for the Sisters of Providence Mission Advancement office. She's also a Providence Associate.

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