Transitions, Gratitude, and the Hardest Blog Post I’ve Ever Written

By Hilary “the Intern” Wolkan

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Many of you know that my time at Lydia’s House is drawing to a close, and I will be moving on to a similar position in Boston.  While I am tremendously excited for this next chapter God is calling me to, it is with a heavy heart that I leave the Lydia’s House community, the family that I have been so blessed to have been a part of these past 10 months.

 

When I first started my time at Lydia’s House, I had no idea what I was doing.  I had just come out of eight years of studying and practicing archaeology, and while I knew I was being called to a life working with the urban poor, I was trained in absolutely nothing related to it.  Mary Ellen and Meridith will tell you that in my interview for the position, they listed all the tasks they’d like me to complete, and for almost every item I replied “I have zero experience in that but I’m willing to learn.”  I thought it would be a miracle for them to take a chance on me, but they did, and thus began one of the most influential years of my life.

 

Ostensibly, my time at Lydia’s House taught me fundamental skills for pursuing a career in the non-profit sector: I can tell you a lot about which programs are great for e-marketing or recording donations, and if you ever need to write a blog post for WordPress, I’m your girl.  I’ve also been able to add event planning, communications, and development to my résumé, making me feel much more confident as I start this new path in life.  But these abilities are not what I’m taking away from my time here.  The impact of my internship is much deeper.

 

I came to Cincinnati vaguely aware of the severity of poverty in our nation, with no real concept of the battle we are fighting.  I had never heard of the Catholic Worker movement, and I couldn’t tell you the first thing about how to help alleviate poverty.  Through Lydia’s House, I learned about and, more importantly, experienced the brokenness of our world.  I met women and children in crisis whose only hope was our home. I worked side-by-side with a generous grassroots community who gave endlessly for our cause—a group of supporters who would welcome me with open arms and whose banner I happily took as my own.  Through Mary Ellen and Meridith, and the wider Lydia’s House family, fighting poverty seemed much more achievable, and it became the only battle I wanted to fight.

 

During my time here, I became more and more aware of how important an organization like Lydia’s House is: we are present and ready to catch those who fall through the cracks of society, the ones who are often forgotten but need the most help.  But there is also something spiritual, something contagious about the Lydia’s House community.  It seems no matter where I went in Cincinnati, I was met by an increasing number of people who knew about and support the work we do.  It’s as if Lydia’s House is a lantern in the city, glowing brighter and brighter each day.  A lighthouse for homeless women and children.  A beacon rallying our city to join us in support.  We emit the radical energy of doing God’s work in our own neighborhood, and people can’t help but get involved somehow.

 

It is true I am leaving for Boston, but a part of me will never really leave.  I will be in the bluish-grey stairs I painted one summery afternoon, the worn-but-loved pages of the books I placed on the shelves of the children’s room, and the plastic pink seats I constructed in the office. I will welcome each new guest that crosses our threshold, and will proudly beam when they move in to their own independent housing.  Lydia’s House is so much more than a job I spent 15 hours a week doing; it’s a representation of the life I want to lead and the person I want to be.  Lydia’s House has become more than a home of hospitality: it has become my home, one that I will never truly leave.

 

I can’t express my gratitude for the opportunity and the friendship that this internship has brought me, mainly because the words just don’t exist. Thank you for letting me a part of this beautiful journey, and may God bless every step of your path as you continue to bring God’s kingdom to Cincinnati.

Ice Cream, Prizes, and Games, Oh My!

June 7th marked our second annual Norwood Children’s Carnival, co-hosted with Woven Oak Initiatives, and it was a success!  This year, we moved the carnival to Upper Millcrest Park, spreading our games, activities, and delicious food over the entire area.  Between the shade of the trees, the lovely weather, and the access to all the amenities of the park, we couldn’t have asked for a better day for a carnival.

We began to set up around noon, and were blessed by so many of our friends who came and helped carry tables, start the grill, and set up the games.

 

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Some volunteers from the LILYMI Foundation

We had delicious burgers, hot dogs, pasta, and other picnic type food donated by The Fresh Market, Walgreens, Kroger, Betta’s Italian Oven, Mike Mezher Jr., and Speedway.  There was so much delicious food, we filled our bellies until they burst and even had some extra to bring back to Lydia’s House!

 

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Annie and Sam enjoyed every last bit of their food

We also had numerous volunteers from our Woven Oak and Lydia’s House communities come and help run the games.  We had face paint, snow cones, book giveaways, and many fun games!

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Debbie Anderson from the library handing out gift bags

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Erin Lockridge leads a garden activity

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Just one of our many carnival games

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Eileen Hogan helps with the bean bag toss

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Some friendly faces

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Alice Rericha and the Daisy Scouts volunteered at our PNC Coloring Station

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Face painting was one of our most popular tables!

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Nothing can come between a child and the ability to create bubbles

All in all, it was a fun afternoon, the only downside being that Hilary the Intern, due to a lack of foresight, got a major sunburn (and she learned her lesson, she promises).  New friends and old came together to enjoy the beautiful day and the hard work of our supporters, and for days afterward we basked in the glow of the love present in Norwood.  God is really doing great things in this city, and we are so blessed to be a part of it.

Many thanks to the following for their contributions and help: Daisy Scouts, LILYMI Foundation, Norwood Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention Coalition, Norwood Nazarene, Norwood Recreation Center, PNC Bank, Vineyard Central, and all our donors and volunteers.

 

 

 

A Birthday Celebration

Here at Lydia’s House, we have so many occasions to feel blessed.  From the many hands that renovated our house over God knows how many strenuous hours, to the cooks who bring nourishing meals once a week, to those who help with house duty and practically any other way they can.  We’d be hard pressed to find anywhere else with such a deeply committed community.

Our Birthday Bash June 1st was no exception.

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The Birthday Girls!

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Some of the decorations put up by our guest

Two members of our Lydia’s House community celebrated birthdays last Sunday, and we could not believe the tremendous amount of love and effort that went into such a wonderful evening.  One of our volunteers, Taffany, and her children cooked a Mexican feast for us full of enchiladas, tortillas, tacos, rice, fruit salad, and even a traditional Mexican drink so sweet we wouldn’t let the children have too much of it.

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The aftermath of the delicious feast. And this was only a fraction of the food!

So many of our friends came to celebrate with us.  We filled our bellies on the wonderful meal, enjoyed the beautiful weather, and basked in the glow of the dear community around us.

2014-06-01 18.39.30Could anyone ask for a better community?

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Getting the cake ready

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In the end, the day represented everything we feel blessed by: the tremendous generosity of others, friendly faces and warm hearts surrounding us, and a feeling of home. And really, these are all the things we hope Lydia’s House can be for the women and children who come to stay with us.