It’s no secret that all things at Lydia’s House are possible thanks to all of our dedicated volunteers who consistently show up and help us accomplish our every day tasks both big and small. Lydia’s House strives to be a relational ministry. Folks connected to the world of ministry may take this for granted, but to all of us on staff here, we know that the commitment it takes to be a part of a relational ministry is no small task. Relational ministry requires a few key things, consistency, intentional presence, and the desire to invest in relationship with the people you serve.

To show you what we mean, we have chosen to highlight our Wednesday night cooking crew, a dedicated group of women who have committed to cover every Wednesday of each month, sometimes cooking together, sometimes cooking alone, and occasionally hosting a catered meal. We appreciate these women so much because they have created an independent sense of team, coordinate schedules and small details between themselves, and reliably and joyfully contribute to the life of our house.

Sue Freking and Marcia Pardekooper started volunteering for dinners at Lydia’s House along with their friend Amy Vennemeyer. Marcia remembers Sue inviting her along to help with a few dinners a month and agreeing, not entirely sure what she was getting into.

Sue appreciates how fun volunteering for Lydia’s House is. She enjoys getting to know all of the different people around the dinner table and sharing stories. Sue also notes “Lydia’s House has affected my faith by reminding me that God is not living in our churches, but out in our communities.  If Jesus was here in Cincinnati I think he would be helping at Lydia House, not just going to mass on Sundays.”  As I was asking her questions for this article, she tilted her head to the side and smiled and said “You guys always make it so fun to be here.”

For Marcia, Lydia’s House is particularly notable because during the day she works as a court appointed special advocate (CASA) for 12 year old youth. Over the years she has watched many of these youth “age out” of the foster care system and has seen many of them face homelessness, depression, addiction, and incarceration. Through her time cooking and sharing meals at Lydia’s House she has realized, “This is what they really need. They need connection with mentors who know them and care about them, who can help to guide them to the next step, but also validate and affirm them.  Like a family.  And they need connections with friends , who understand what they’re going through and just do what friends do.  And maybe a good dinner, too!” 

We are grateful for the time and love that these women and all of our meal and house duty volunteers give to Lydia’s House. Their continual presence in our lives at Lydia’s House is a reminder of Jesus’ promise to show up in our midst through the presence of others. Sue reflects on her experience as a volunteer, “If anyone would be interested in trying to volunteer I would say, as a woman, I love helping and holding up women..you can do that at Lydia House.  I have all the support I need at Lydia House, whether its ingredients for a meal, finding my way around the kitchen, changing my schedule etc.  Grab a friend and go have a fun night.” 

Marcia thoughtfully concludes, “Lydia’s House is special.  When I volunteer at Lydia’s House, I feel that I’m part of something special, too!”