This post was written by our summer intern Taffany Duggins.  We are grateful for the ways she made our community better, and we look forward to seeing the new ways she will find to bless Lydia’s House with her many gifts.

What is community?  Community is often defined as a group of people living together in the same place or having particular characteristics in common.  Community can also mean a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.  Lydia’s House is a combination of both of these.  We live together in the same place, and we have some of the same characteristics in common.  However, our community extends outside of our home; there is this great big group of people from far and wide that have a sense of fellowship, interests, and shared goals for Lydia’s House.  Since I have been staying here at the house, I have seen so much community from people other than those that live here.  People take time out of their busy schedules to volunteer for house duty or drive out of their way to pick someone up from our house retreat to get them to work on time.  Donors have stepped up to make sure that someone has clothes when at first they had none at all.

This brings me to retreat time.  I have been on two in the last month: one with the whole house and one as a personal retreat.  There has been a lot of reflection for all of us here at the house.  For me, the time of reflection has been an opportunity to grow spiritually and in many personal ways. With the hustle and bustle of every day, I think that sometimes we forget how much God really has a hand in what we are all doing.  We forget when we are impatient for things to be done that it is not in our time but in God’s time.  I am really starting to see this here at Lydia’s House. Things have not worked out in some of the ways that I wanted them to, but other doors have opened for me that I never thought would open.  I have learned that, for the first time in my life, I live and belong in a community.  The things you hear around the Lydia’s House dinner table will make you laugh and cry as we share our goals, interests, and our pasts.  There is never a dull moment here at the house, and it works for us.  It has not worked for some former guests, but I am learning that it is okay because God still has us all.  What works for us may not work for all, yet former guests will one day find their own community.

This brings me to my internship, which ended August 15th.  I would like to say some about what I have learned.  The number one thing I have learned is how great of a community Lydia’s House really is.  There is so much genuine love for not just the guests but for everyone that comes through the door.  I also learned how much I can really do to help others and to advocate for them.  Some things I accomplished during my internship were creating an incentive program from scratch with the help of regular volunteer Laura Menze.  The incentive program was created for the guests to earn rewards for all of the hard work they are doing while staying here at the house.  I also have created a resource manual for all of the residents as well as volunteers to use.  Things in the manual range from housing to jobs to getting legal help and where to go to get birth certificates and IDs for free.  I also worked with Mary Ellen on how to cut back on the grocery bill every week.

Life here in this community has been a great experience for me and has taught me how much a community can really love and care for someone with no strings attached.  I watch this with Mary Ellen, Meridith, and Elizabeth as they put in countless hours of service for free to help woman and children out each and every day, even when they are no longer current guests here in the house.  I never really knew how much time each one of them really put into all the hard work that is done to keep the house afloat.  I see the struggles that these ladies face that most in our community do not get to see.  I see the hurt and the joy that they experience, and I am so grateful to be able to learn something new from each of them.

As I end my stay here at Lydia’s House, I challenge those on the outside that have just read this to step up and really join the community of Lydia’s House and share the love and joy and sorrow that not just the guests experience but also the three woman that help keep this great community going.

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