Rev. Ella Clay

By Ashley Benkarski

NASHVILLE, TN — The Nashville community has been hurting for some time.

Despite a booming tourism economy and a growing population, the most disadvantaged communities in Music City have experienced decades of economic decay, devastating weather events and, finally, the COVID-19 pandemic, all of which caused severe trauma on its residents. 

Healing Minds and Souls, a non-profit begun by Historic First Community Church’s Reverend Ella Clay, is offering a holistic approach to addressing, acknowledging and alleviating the many forms of trauma Nashvillians have been suffering.

“We recognized after the 2020 tornado hit, our community was again thrust into deep trauma, and when you think about the historical and generational factors, all that influences our lives now,” Rev. Clay explained. 

A “faith-based community dedicated to healing trauma through educational classes, resources and fostering wholeness among the community,” Healing Minds and Souls has stepped in to help Nashville residents identify triggers and stressors and find ways to help cope and navigate life’s challenges, such as grief, isolation, and fear while simultaneously assisting participants to discover their innate strengths.

Rev. Clay said trauma impacts all areas of a person’s life—finances, relationships, how they see themselves and how they react to life. 

“Oftentimes we’re in a space that we’re not even aware of [our trauma], because we’re still working, we’re still taking care of overhead and of household responsibilities. We’re trying to put out fires, but we need to stop for a minute … You need some care for yourself,” she said.

Since May 2022, Healing Minds and Souls has served more than 10,000 meals to program participants and community members, has conducted more than 100 hours of faith-based educational classes, and more than 40 families have been served on a consistent basis, receiving food and essential supplies, such as basic hygiene items, all with only two full-time employees.

Classes include Trauma Healing, Faith and Finances, Boundaries and the Story of God.

Smaller group settings for classes dealing with traumatic experiences allow for an intimate educational experience that fosters trust through bonding. It also offers privacy, Rev. Clay said.

There is also a community garden open to all to pick fresh vegetables every Tuesday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Healing Minds and Souls is holding a fundraising event Thursday, Sep. 29 from 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m. at 490 Industrial Drive (The Fellowship at Mt. Juliet).

The next round of classes begins Sept. 25. For more information or to donate to Healing Minds and Souls, call Quanita Thomas at 615-689-6681 or visit my-healing-center.org.