May This House Become a Home

Work on the Jean Donovan House is well underway, and we’re excited to open our doors on May 31 to expand our capacity, house additional resident volunteers, and serve more women in need. The property of 2005 Mills Ave was purchased last fall, thanks in part to generous donations from both Marge and Bill Dejonckheere and Christ Church Cathedral. When we first toured our new home, it was, well, an absolute mess!

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Last November, our friends from the Floral House (a young adult intentional community of the Episcopal Diocese) and Xavier University took on the monumental task of clearing the place. The backyard was a veritable jungle. The third floor was practically knee-deep in junk. On our first workday, we filled a 20-foot dumpster in less than 6 hours. Then the house sat for a couple months, lying fallow as we waited for city permits to be approved and contractors to be hired. Faithful students from Xavier University’s Center for Faith and Justice and Xavier Navigators continued to work through the cold to beautify the yard, and they were joined by confirmation students from St. Monica/St. George Catholic Church.

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Over the past eight weeks, volunteer Sandra Kelley has served as our tireless project manager. Did I mention that she is a saint? She has worked hand-in-hand with our amazing general contractor, Bob Lally of BTS Contracting. These skilled men have even donated a couple days of free labor to the efforts – thank you Bob for your professionalism and your generosity!  They have been joined by skilled volunteers and old friends, people like Russ Nixon, Dennis and Georgia Bishop, Cameron Kelley, Greg Mellor, Tom Cunningham, and Tony Eilerman, who brought along some friends for the thankless job of IKEA cabinet assembly. We have even made new friends through this process, those like Emily Chambers, who read about us in the Xavier alumni magazine and was promptly priming the entire house! We are so blessed.
However, the work is far from over. In order to expand the capacity of Lydia’s House and celebrate our House Dedication in exactly one month, we need your help! We will be having workdays every Saturday during May for both skilled and unskilled laborers. We’ll always gather around 9 am and work until projects are done. We also have need of skilled workers throughout the week to finish tiling, reinforce porches, install trim, and the like. If you’d like to join us for a workday or have a specific skill to share, please contact Elizabeth Coyle at Thank you for your prayers, your financial support, and especially your willingness to put the hammer to the nail for women in need!

Volunteer Spotlight: Janet Ziegler

One of our Associate Volunteers, Janet comes to us through the Ignatian Volunteer Corps, a great organization that pairs volunteers with local non-profits. We couldn’t be luckier than to be paired with Janet! Every Thursday she can be found hard at work, having quickly mastered the ins and outs of life here. Even knee surgery and jury duty could not keep her away for long. She keeps us organized in our office, clean and tidy in our living space, and is a trustworthy presence to guests and staff alike! Not to mention, everyone has second and third helpings whenever Janet makes dinner.

associate Janet Ziegler

Janet was first connected to Ignatian Volunteer Corps through St. Xavier church, and came to Lydia’s House in September of 2014. Her favorite aspect of time here has been getting to know everybody, especially residents. In her time outside the house she is busy quilting, reading, hiking, and traveling. Fun fact: Janet just got back from Iowa, which is the 49th state she has visited! Hawaii is the last one on her list, and assures us she will make it there as soon as possible.

She would also like to share with her adoring public that she probably gets more out of this relationship than the house does (though we doubt anyone could benefit more than we)!

Thank you, Janet!!