As July began, so began a new wave of covid -19 cases in Hamilton County, where we live. We had all hoped the worst was behind us. Things started reopening. People were noticeably more pleasant to be around. But sadly, this more open way of life was short lived!

Life at Lydia’s House had been getting “normal” again as well. We once again had all four rooms open and filled. But with the rapidly spreading cases in Hamilton County we looked to our new pandemic guidelines and determined we needed to take a step back.

With rising numbers, our county was placed on “red” by the state of Ohio. At Lydia’s House, all indoor spaces were closed, surfaces were to be disinfected at least two times a day, staff members were tested, gatherings (outside) were limited to 10 adults, temperatures were taken, outside volunteers and families were not permitted inside… and so much more! As all these changes took effect, and our life swung back to lockdown, we once again found housing for each shelter family. With the families in safe housing we were able to then turn the four bedrooms back into three suites with refrigerators and microwaves. I know people often reference the movie “Groundhog Day” during this pandemic (where the people live the same scenario over and over)… well, this is kind of right. Around here it feels a bit more like “Back to the Future.” Didn’t we already do this? How did we get back to this place again?

Life seemed chaotic and challenging, and it was. The strangest part, however, was that our guests didn’t seem to notice that the county was headed for crisis. Because they always live with crisis looming, what really was a switch from yellow to red to purple for them?

In the midst of it all, one of our former guests gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. We were able to bless him and celebrate his arrival with a socially distanced liturgy and gifts, on the porch of her new home. We needed a reason to celebrate and what a great thing to celebrate… a new little life.

As July progressed, Mary Ellen organized Cincinnati Health Care For The Homeless (Cincinnati health network Inc.) to bring one of their trucks to the parking lot of Virginia Coffey Place, to do on-sight covid testing. We all filled out the necessary paper work and lined up to get our tests. Every test came back negative! Another reason to celebrate!

Of course there will be more changes and there are also new projects that we continue to work on each day. As we end July we’re imminently moving a new family into a re-established suite, we just completed a discernment for a new live in volunteer for the fall, and we’re gearing up to welcome a Mercy Volunteer 40 hours a week. We’re starting a common reading of “The Warmth of Other Suns” with our staff. We’re so grateful the governor increased preschool classroom limits to 12 kids, which will allow our preschool to open in September.

Life at Lydia’s House, although very different in many ways, remains the same at our core. Despite all the obstacles, we remain open, providing a safe shelter space for the women who come through our doors. We continue to support the Homeless Coalition with their campaign for an Affordable Housing Trust Fund. We continue celebrating the achievements of our families.

And as always thank you for all the continued prayers and support. We appreciate it so much!