by Laura Menze, OT

Creating a Culture of Celebration

When I describe Lydia’s House to someone, it is vital that I mention celebrations. From birthday parties to baby blessings to back to school parties with the bounce house, we love celebrating! In our work and lives discouragements can be numerous, thus it is critical that we take a step back to be with one another, celebrate what is good, and eat desserts! As our work has expanded this past year with the opening of Virginia Coffey Place, we have sought to continue our culture of celebration in new ways and into new spaces. Let us introduce you to some of our newest celebrations…

Celebrating the Birthday of Virginia Coffey

Virginia Coffey, the Cincinnati civil rights leader and namesake of our newest building, would have turned 115 on December 14. Celebrating her birthday allowed us to remember her life and enjoy birthday festivities. I celebrated first with Azaela Montessori School where children got to blow out candles on their individual cakes. During the weekend, residents of Virginia Coffey Place were invited to enjoy doughnuts and coffee in the common room. Some resident children were animated with the early morning sugar rush of doughnuts, while others ate doughnuts sleepy eyed. Though there was confusion among the children of why Virginia Coffey did not come to her party, it was a success and will be continued in future years.

Door Banners at Virginia Coffey

One of the most notable celebration markers of Lydia’s House is the banners that hang from the corners of the dining room ceiling during dinnertime celebrations. When Virginia Coffey Place opened to tenants in May, I wondered how to translate celebrations of birthdays and special events into this new setting. Lucky for me, I came across a small banner made originally for the Lydia’s House front door though it never was regularly used. I saw the opportunity to repurpose it for use at Virginia Coffey by sewing in magnets so it could easily be hung to resident’s (metal)doors. It is now regularly used to celebrate birthdays, as well as welcome new residents, including the new baby just born.

Accomplishment Bell Ringing

At a recent staff retreat, we brainstormed new ways of keeping one another accountable to work towards our professional goals. In our experiences, goals written on annual reviews are rarely kept in mind throughout the year. At Lydia’s House work is often self-directed so having additional accountability and incentive to do hard tasks on our to do lists is helpful. As a result of this conversation, staff members now keep a list of ‘big tasks’ and we regularly share progress on at staff meeting. When the day comes that our goal is accomplished, we get to take down the bell from the wall, ring it loudly, and share what we learned. Finally, we get a “I Did a Hard Thing Sticker!” (side note: if you want these stickers for your office, search etsy for “adulting”)

Mary Ellen rings the bell after completing a multi step task!