Honna Brown, volunteer coordinator, reflects on 2 years at Lydia’s House as she prepares to leave the role.
“Wait, don’t leave- please don’t leave!” This might be one of the most squealed phrases from the mouths of the children of Lydia’s House. However, this young friend of mine was more persistent than many others. He draped his small body over the railing, continuing to holler, “Please!” I looked back, smiled, waved and told him I would be back soon. His mother poked her head out the door and told him to come back inside with everyone else. No sooner than the words had left her mouth, he took off running after me.
“Wait, wait, wait!” He wailed as he caught up to me. I put my hands on my hips and looked down at him, “Did your mom say it was okay to leave the house?” His lips pursed together in a pout, “Well, I just really don’t want you to leave. It makes me sad.”
I crouched down next to him, “Yeah, I know, and It’s okay to be sad. I will be back soon and we can play later. How does that sound?”
He shrugged, “Well, you’re just like the best friend I ever had.” He paused, “And I want to play with you now.” I smiled at him, holding back a laugh. “I love you, too, Kai. Let’s go back to your mom.” I walked him back to the house and made sure he was securely inside before I went on my way.
It’s difficult to say goodbye, especially when you love that person or place. When I moved to Ohio in 2017, I thought I would stay for a little while, maximum one year. God’s plans, however, are often very different from our own. Now here I am three years later and wondering how the time seems to slip from us so quickly. It is with a heavy and grateful heart that I begin my own journey to say goodbye to this beautiful community that I have learned to call home.
Lydia’s House is a special place. For some, it is a home for a short while; for many, it becomes a family that supports and loves them through challenging times, even after they leave. One thing that I have loved the most about it is that it is a place that seeks to uphold the dignity and belovedness of all people, no matter what situations they are coming from. When I look back on my time here, I am astounded by the families who have touched my life, their willingness to trust, to share their hopes for life beyond Lydia’s House, to run and play silly games in the back yard, to laugh around the dinner table long after we have cleared our plates, and to share tears over their greatest disappointments.
Along with the guests, I have also come to know the wonderful group of volunteers and donors who constantly surround us with their support and encouragement. It has been a great honor to coordinate your meal drop-offs, house duty schedules, and one-off maintenance tasks. You all have a great gift of listening, seeing how your strengths can fill in the gaps of life here, and a special understanding of how service deepens your faith and understanding of God.
Even with saying goodbye, I trust that we all will hold steady in our commitment to the work that needs to be done in our communities and nation. The important work of seeking equity for all is work that we must constantly pursue, especially in these difficult times where things are so uncertain. We must continue to engage with the decisions and policies in our local and federal government. We must continue to advocate for the necessity of affordable housing in our city and widening services for families who are struggling. In Christ we are asked to remember the holiness of our humanity, and I think the first step toward that is holding the struggle of our neighbors as equal to our own. It is my prayer that with each passing day, Christ reveals more clearly to each of us what that means in our own lives.
We are love embodied; the spirit of Christ resurrected lives and works through us. That is a hopeful reality, isn’t it? Thank you to each guest, volunteer, and staff member for making the last two years warm, beautiful, spontaneous, and many days, hilarious. I am a different person today because of you all and I am excited to see where life carries me in the years to come. I know that the lessons and stories I have from this place will be a strong foundation for whatever opportunities and challenges cross my path. Blessings to all of us as we move forward in hope.