Warm Holiday Greetings from the Lydia’s House Community! It has been a special season of Advent at Lydia’s House. Amidst sneaky shoe filling on St. Nick’s Day, weekly Advent themed story telling, candle lighting, and prayer. We are happy to share that we also made some time for community crafting. This year we got craftsy with our Christmas Card, giving the kids a special chance to share their creativity with you!
Our fingertips in a flurry, we let them sprint over the tops of Christmas cards in assembly line fashion. Gold here, purple there, a touch of blue between, with a house atop the tree – We hope you enjoy the finished product. Happy Holidays from the Lydia’s house crew, may we wait expectantly together for Love to enter the world again this season and in the new year.
Workers have been busy 7 days a week and we remain on schedule to open in the spring of 2019!
The latest updates include adding drywall to the walls of our new building and installing HVAC systems. Exterior detail work and finishes are going up soon. Thank you so much to our faithful volunteers especially Dan Aerni, Dennis Bishop and Dane Miller (aka the triple D’s).
We look forward to offering affordable apartments to our guest families, keeping them in community with Lydia’s House in a supportive, asset rich neighborhood!
We’re so pleased to announce our first commercial tenant: Azalea Montessori. Azalea is affiliated with Wildflower Schools, a national network of Montessori micro-schools. Children ages 3-6 (preschool and kindergarten) will be accepted for both half and full day programs starting in September 2019.
We still have a commercial space available. If you’d be interested in renting from us in West Norwood please contact Ben@stlydiashouse.org
We continue to raise money for this project but only have $80,000 to go to complete our fundraising goal of 1.1 million dollars. We have 8 unit adoptions which will include kitchen, windows, appliances, trim, fixtures, flooring and paint: $20,000 each (4 units needed). If you’d like to adopt a unit or give to this campaign, please contact Maryellen@stlydiashouse.org
Thanks for following our journey, and stay tuned for more details on our opening ceremony!
In early August, a group of 19 Lydia’s House guests, staff and family members journeyed north to London, OH to attend Procter Center’s family camp for the second summer in a row. Procter Camp is a ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio and offers a place for kids and families to grow in faith, learn, and play together. For many, it was a first “camping” experience and offered a chance to try new things, escape the city and enjoy peaceful farmland scenery.
We started each day with music and a daily story led by the Chaplain and camp counselors. There was a long list of activities during the days to choose from, like arts and crafts, farm tour and animal meet and greet, lake and pool swimming, music, fishing, and team sports. For those of us just looking for some time to relax and recharge, you could spend time walking the grounds, reading a book in the rocking chairs, or visiting the labyrinth.
All in all, there was something for everybody, and the kids had some GOOD naps as a result!
We’re very thankful for the staff and volunteers who kept life moving, and the house standing, in our absence. As our time in this place came to a close, we found our hearts full, our bodies tired, our skin sun kissed, and our minds looking homeward to Lydia’s House.
Excerpt from “Better Than Gold” by Father Ryan
Better than gold is a peaceful home, Where all the fire-side charities come— The shrine of love, the heaven of life, Hallowed by mother, or sister, or wife. However humble the home may be, Or tried with sorrow by Heaven’s decree, The blessings that never were bought or sold, And center there, are better than gold.
I’m Mary Ellen Mitchell. I’m the co-director of Lydia’s House, a shelter for homeless families, a mom of 3 young kids and a Cincinnati native. The many balls I juggle dictate that my reading list is short each year, and if you’re in this camp with me, I want to say that this book is worth the cut. I want to give my strongest endorsement to “Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers her Superpower.” After finishing this book in February of this year I sent the author, Brittney Cooper, a fan girl style email that said “This is the truest thing I’ve ever read.” And even after I’ve come down from my post reading high, I stand by that statement.
At Lydia’s House, where I work, we seek to be a feminist anti-racist organization. We also see the reality of racism in our city play out in such a raw way because we answer devastating phone calls from women, most of them young black mothers, who are living in cars or storage units with their children. We hear defeated voices on the other side of the line, and constantly intersect with child protective services and the many other agencies that steer the course and dominate the time and choices of the families we offer shelter to.
Into this storm came a glimmer of light when, during Lent, our staff discovered and read together this most recent work of feminist academic Brittney Cooper. Out of our collective rage about the election of 2016, confusion about gun ownership trumping the safety of our children and families, and continual rethinking of why women of limited economic prospects embrace mothering came this succinct treatise that addressed it all and tied it together as only a brilliant social analyst can. To be clear, this isn’t a book about poverty—this is a book about one woman’s rage over structural injustice and how that injustice is keeping us all down. We’ve all felt rage in the last 12 months or so—what Brittney Cooper does is put that rage to work.
Clearly some specifics about my life led me to seek out this book but I want to reiterate, you need to read this! I think you should read Eloquent Rage because, while many of us may be clear on who and what we’re against in this troubling political time, we may be less clear about who we’re for. Brittney Cooper argues we need to be for Black Women. She outlines the specifics of oppression against black women and balances it shrewdly with the unique skills, adaptations and gifts of “black girl magic.” She intertwines recent history and the long history of race relations of America; she deftly balances competing forms of oppression; she shares raw personal experience and backs it up with demographic data. This is all done in such an artful way that it makes really difficult topics like white privilege and women turning on other women amazingly easy to digest. I literally couldn’t put it down. I told my co-worker “It’s like mental pop rocks.” You’ll feel smarter when you finish this book. But you won’t be let off the hook.
If you’re ready to get real about black feminism, violence, white power, and intersectionality then this is a must read. I’d love to talk more about it when you’re done!
On the first Sunday in March, we gathered for our monthly in-house worship service. We listened as Mary Ellen shared a reflection on Lent, the special season before Easter. The word comes from the “lengthening” of daylight hours as we move from the darkness of winter to the new light of spring. In particular, she reflected on Jesus being led into the desert by the Spirit, the humanity of Jesus in experiencing and confronting Satan’s temptation, and the role of Angels in this story. What was the purpose of this desert experience? Why were angels sent to him after he was tempted? Jesus not only observed humanity, but he lived it. During those 40 days in the desert, he must have been hungry. He must have felt doubt. He must have had questions. If we know where to look, we can find courage and strength in Jesus’ response to each of Satan’s temptations. And we can find understanding in his compassionate, loving and merciful response to to others who experienced and gave into temptation.
Second Annual Volunteer Appreciation Brunch
A dozen folks were able to join us on March 10 for an appreciation reception and brunch. We celebrated with a brief liturgy, following the format of Lydia’s House weekly staff meeting and volunteer affirmations. For those of you who were unable to attend, we want to take this opportunity to affirm you!
“In this room are representatives of every kind of volunteer who makes life work at Lydia’s House.
Thank you meal angels. In 2017 we never missed a dinner meal, from Sunday – Thursday a hot, nutritious and thoughtful meal was on our table! Thank you for homemade yeast rolls, for extravagant desserts, for bringing your own ingredients, for introducing new dishes, and for responding to guests needs, wants and allergies. Meals at Lydia’s House are so much more than food: they are the epicenter of community, a place of learning, and something that is dearly missed by guests after they leave.
Thank you board members. The board members that are here today have been with us from the start. They’ve attended meeting that, sometimes, last until 11pm. They review financial reports, write minutes, consult on personnel policies and ask their friends and families to support Lydia’s House financially. It is not a glamorous job to be a board member, but it is so vital to our operations so thank you.
Thank you maintenance volunteers. It’s hard to estimate how much of our operations budget has been saved because of volunteer maintenance, but it’s a lot! But what’s more is that our maintenance volunteers probably do a better job than anyone we could pay. Thank you for responding to tedious to do lists, painting precisely, turning over rooms, fixing things small and large and doing it with such grace. We appreciate you.
Thank you House duty volunteers. House duty is an ever shifting entity but we’re grateful for those of you who’ve been willing to sign on to do anything from sit in the living room and read to shuttle folks to the emergency room. We need you to keep our space safe and beautiful, to provide respite to our live in crew, and to be an extra listening ear and thoughtful presence in the life of our community. We’re grateful for you.
Thank you fundraisers and gatherers of needed things. Lydia’s House experiences abundance because of you. Thank you for finding things we need, buying things you can’t find, dropping off, picking up, responding to our lists and requests and making it possible for our guests to live a richer life because you take some burdens and expenses off of their plates.”
Mary Ellen shared 2017 accomplishments (2017 Report to Partners) and changes to life at Lydia’s House, including new Lydia’s House staff members Elisa (live in associate & volunteer coordinator) and Laura (occupational therapist), apartment building updates and plans for 2018. Laura presented on her new role and associated responsibilities, including guest intake, life skills building, and spearheading our aftercare program with former residents.
Credits & Special Thanks: Taylor Hand for designing the invitations; Kathy Aerni & Bellarmine Chapel for donating a beautiful, handmade quilt to each Lydia’s House guest.
M’s Baby Shower
Friends, family, staff and associates gathered at the house to celebrate the impending arrival of baby C. Hosted by a former guest, and catered by the guest of honor’s uncle, it was personalized and full of love. We played games and competed for prizes…
We tried our hardest NOT to say the word BABY…
We attempted to guess the mom-to-be’s belly diameter in # of toilet paper squares…
And we raced to come up with baby names A-Z…
A few of us made it into the winner’s circle…and, mostly, the rest of us were all gracious losers.
There were presents galore, a Bugs Bunny cake a la Anne, and plenty of baby snuggles.
In a stroke of good luck, we enjoyed a sunshine and family-filled gathering. The kids, separated by age group, hunted for eggs scattered throughout the front, side and back yards and competed (not really… everyone’s a winner) for prizes – generously donated Easter baskets filled with toys, books, and crafts!
Check out some of our cute contestants:
What better reward to end the celebration with than a Chinese buffet? YUM to the YUM.
Credits & Special Thanks: Taylor Hand for the handmade invitations; Kasia & Heather for the awesome kids gift baskets; Sally for being our day-of volunteer extraordinaire; Maria for the desserts.
Offering safe, stable and supportive housing to women and children in crisis and transition in the Greater Cincinnati region
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