By Hilary, the Intern
Those of us living in Cincinnati, or honestly most of the nation right now, will know how incredibly cold it has been this winter. Admittedly, I have become less tolerant of intense winters since I moved away from Michigan and Boston–it seems the milder climate of England, where I spent the last year and three months of my life, has spoiled me. Needless to say, I’ve been rather grumpy the past few months, and Mary Ellen and Meridith can attest to the number of hours I spend bundled up in front of our office radiator trying to warm myself even the tiniest bit.
It wasn’t until the other day when I was waiting for a bus when I realized just how important our work at Lydia’s House can be in seasons like this. I was only outside for maybe thirty minutes, but it was on one of the single-digit days, one of those days when it felt like the smallest frozen breeze would strip off your skin and turn your bones to solid ice. By the time my bus came, I could no longer feel my feet, fingers, or nose, and I had resolved myself to Google “frostbite symptoms” the minute I got to the office out of fear that I had acquired one during the course of my wait.
I also remember later that week I was returning from downtown Cincinnati after having attended an event. Near Fountain Square I saw a man bundled on the street, shielding himself as much as possible from the January gale in a doorway of a store. It was clear he would be spending the night in what felt like a frozen tundra, sleeping on unforgiving cement and barely keeping himself covered in the accumulating snowfall. I remember noting the juxtaposition of his night and what would be mine: his involved a painful night outside, whereas I looked forward to a soft bed, a cup of tea, and the ability to watch the snow from the shelter of my room.
It was on this day that I realized first-hand how much we are needed in Cincinnati. I am blessed enough to have a warm place to go to on days like this, and to fill my belly with nourishing meals to help take the edge off of winter. There are hundreds of women and children, though, who don’t. These women and children have to endure more than a simple 30 minutes in this weather: they must face it sometimes for days at a time, with no additional clothing or blankets to help, and no office radiators in front of which they could huddle. It is true that Lydia’s House cannot shelter everyone from the cold, but at least we can say that we will provide warmth for up to four women and six children. Ten people will no longer have to suffer on the streets because of our home. Ten people will be out of shop doorways and in warm, brand-new beds. It is amazing to think the impact that will have on someone’s life.
I have been proud to work at Lydia’s House countless of times over the past 5 months of my internship, but I have never been more proud than I was last week, standing at the bus stop or driving downtown, knowing that while we may not be making a significant dent in homelessness in Cincinnati, we will make a significant impact in the lives of those ten guests who will stay with us. It’s indeed strange how simply the provision of basic human needs can make all the difference in life, and I’m honored that I get to help Lydia’s House make that difference.