Written by weekly house duty volunteer, Joan Meyer

I began volunteering at Lydia’s House through the Ignatian Volunteer Corps (IVC).  How wonderful, I thought!  A chance to give back in thanks for all the blessings I have received.  Well, like so many times when reality does not exactly align with our expectations, this has turned out to be yet another blessing for me!  I am the one who has so greatly benefitted from this experience.

Lydia’s House was the best option for my volunteer work through the IVC because I work full-time and Lydia’s House, unlike the other places, had evening opportunities.  This was a blessing not even disguised, as often in the evenings, the residents and children are home.  There is a communal dinner, announced by the ringing of a large brass bell.  When there are older children in the house, their enthusiasm for ringing the bell is only exceeded by the decibel level sounded throughout the house.

What I have received from volunteering at Lydia’s House is the privilege of meeting amazing women.  Let me start with the residents.  These women have had experiences growing up that are so different from mine: bouncing through foster care homes, a parent in prison, endless moves, no home at all—the stories may differ but the constant is these women are amazing, survivors, and have not given up trying to make a better life for themselves and their children.  It has been humbling to meet women who have faced such adversity, pushed right through it and have gone back to school, gotten housing, saved for a car.  I think the most telling example of the generosity of spirit I have seen in some of the former residents is when one former resident hurt her foot, could not get around and was struggling to care for her 4 children.  A sign-up sheet was posted online to bring dinner to the family and former residents of Lydia’s House were right there, signing up.  It is like the bible story when the widow gives her few coins to the church, but this means more to God than all the money tithed by the rich men.  These women are giving back in great measure.

But it does not stop there.  A great reason for their success is the wonderful staff at Lydia’s House.  This is not a job for them, it is a commitment, a real life example of what it means to “Walk The Talk.”  These amazing women did not go into this for the fame, glory and especially not the money.  They work so hard, any hour of the day or night needed, to help the women who have come to them.  They support each other.  They have an extensive network to align what the Lydia’s House residents need with the right network or agency.  They are selfless, they are committed, they are heroines in a time where we greatly need these role models.

And I could not end this without mentioning the children.  They are darling! The best part of evening house duty is getting to play with them.  They are curious, fun, bright, and have taught me many new games…and how to cheat at cards.  And it is a testament to the Lydia’s House Family that I still get to see former residents and their children at the many social events that occur throughout the year.

So if you needed a reason to consider supporting and volunteering at Lydia’s House, I can confirm, you will get out of it more than they will and it is a true path to get closer to God.