By: Meridith Owensby
One late night this past winter, Macey was dropping off a friend in Bellevue, just over the river from Cincinnati. It was bitter cold, and both parties were tired from the evening’s festivities.
As Macey drove through the dark streets of the neighborhood, she noticed a strange light ahead of her. Slowly, she realized that a house on the street was on fire. No emergency vehicles were on the scene.
Fearing that people could be trapped in the house unaware, Macey pulled over, jumped out of the car, and raced to the front door. She began banging on the door, calling loudly for anyone inside to flee.
This, in a nutshell, characterizes Macey’s approach to crisis. She assesses the situation, decides on a course of action, and puts herself wholeheartedly into that action, even if it means personal risk and bruised knuckles the next day. This is true regardless of the hour or level of fatigue she’s currently experiencing.
When Macey moved to Norwood from Iowa, she had never lived outside the Iowa state line for any length of time. She moved in 2021, the second summer of the pandemic, when we were just beginning to emerge from our protective crouch positions at the shelter.
Very quickly, Macey established herself as a capable and thoughtful case manager. She was well liked by guests, who trusted her to do the things she said she would do. There was no administrative task too complicated, no set of steps too thankless that Macey could not get to the goal.
It wasn’t all about to do lists, however. Macey has that particular mix of friendliness and capability that you find in the best waitresses and health care workers, a solicitude that also takes no crap. This is no accident, as Macey has been and is currently an Olive Garden waitress, and worked in a nursing home during college. She is one of those people who adds positively to a situation, be it a celebration or a crisis moment.
Those of us who have worked with Macey during her time at Lydia’s House have no doubt that she will make a stellar social worker wherever she heads next. She’s indicated she’d like somewhere heavier on crises, and while we cannot hope to accommodate that desire of hers at Lydia’s House, we know the world will be better for her serving in those settings.
That dark night when Macey knocked on a house on fire, it turned out no one was at home. The firetrucks arrived a few minutes after and took over the scene. Macey drove on, shaken but glad she had responded in the moment she saw a need.
Macey, we give thanks for the many needs you have seen and addressed in your years of service with us. In true Lydia’s House style, we ring our bells in honor of Macey May McAtee: friend of many, extrovert extraordinaire, first responder, bestower of breadsticks. We have been blessed by the two years you’ve given to Lydia’s House, and we wish you every blessing as you continue your journey.
Ebony Pratt was emboldened to apply to our Fellowship program after finishing a masters degree in Non-Profit management. When we got her application, noteworthy for her extensive experience working in nonprofits and clear commitment to her personal faith, it felt like the sky opened up. Frankly, had we designed a candidate to be the first to come to us under the “non-profit leadership” framework for our Dorothy Day Fellows, we couldn’t have done better than to design Ebony!
Over the last two years we’ve been grateful for her low drama, hard work ethic and can-do spirit. We’ve also been grateful that she was willing to leave her mom and brother, for the first time in her life, and venture from North Carolina to Cincinnati.
In her interview Ebony told us that she’d been both an accomplished Girl Scout and, later, a Girl Scout leader. Little did she know that we’ve long drawn inspiration from the Girl Scouts as we’ve led our troop through the wilderness. For years we offered house made Girl Scout style merit badges for guests and community members as they accomplished goals. While we don’t do that anymore (having lost our main seamstress) we still hold this practice in our hearts. For Ebony I’d award the “make it better” badge, for the many times she revamped ugly things or clunky systems for the better and the “with a smile” badge for the umpteen volunteer orientations she conducted with grace and the “golden shovel” badge for over seeing countless hours of volunteers to clear the vacant lot where our addition is soon to go. I might also add the “cheer them on” badge for her enthusiasm at our attempts at silly sports like Fowling (football meets bowling) and the “ultimate organizer” for keeping all our birthday celebrations and events in order while being sure that we observed each person’s milestone.
Ebony has been a sweet and thoughtful volunteer coordinator, a gracious host to many new folks at our table, a knowledgeable and polished ambassador for our mission, a curious learner of new skills, a generous lender of purses and accessories, and a friend to us all.
As she transitions to whatever God has next for her, starting late summer of this year, she leaves a hole that it will be difficult to fill. Lydia’s House is stronger for her gifts and those gifts, no doubt, have contributed to the building the beloved community.