An Introduction to Mercy Volunteer, Faith Casella-Lopez
Full Circle: through a series of developments that lead back to the original source, position, or situation or to a complete reversal of the original position
When I discovered the potential opportunity to do a year of service with Mercy Volunteer Corp in fall of 2020, I had just started a new position with a wonderful community services agency supporting foster children during their supervised family visits. Since work hours were limited and the future held many unknowns at that time, I took the chance at applying to be a Mercy Volunteer for the 2021-22 year. As I reviewed the possible placements, I had Lydia’s House; Cincinnati “circled” as one of the top choices I was interested in serving with. The daily aim of supporting and encouraging women & children with compassion, providing practical assistance, and in a loving communal environment very much connected with me. My own personal experiences growing up in a public housing community and in a single parent home, has led my heart and career path in wanting to help and inspire others who are journeying through challenging situations as well.
After obtaining my undergrad degree in Sociology in my home state of New Jersey, I worked for several Non-Profit organizations throughout the past 10 years, supporting the needs of homeless youth in shelter/transition, assisting low-income seniors with community resources and home management, and as a family support worker with Norwescap Head Start/Early Head Start. The culmination of these encounters, in addition to being a long-time volunteer with Family Promise (or Interfaith Hospitality Network) has shown me the hope and strengthening power that can occur in peoples’ lives when the values of compassionate service, humility, and kindness are carried out within a trusted community. Since arriving in late August, I have had the privilege of getting to see and hear from the staff team, previous and current volunteers, and multiple community friends including former LH shelter guests on what an impact and legacy Lydia’s House has made and continues to build here in Cincinnati!
‘Circling back’ to the path of getting here, when my Mercy Volunteer application was accepted in 2021, Lydia’s House was no longer available. I went on to planning for a completely different service site in Baltimore, until changes with Covid unexpectedly closed the door to that position for 2021. This resulted in a new door opening for the option to volunteer for 2022-23. The detour became a blessing that has allowed me to now serve here at Lydia’s House as a Housing and Family Advocate. As I take in all the moving parts and learn from the amazing team here, I hope to contribute by keeping those values in the forefront, in my actions and interactions. Some of my duties will be assisting the case managers with providing referrals, guest care, and house maintenance. I enjoy being a calming and encouraging presence acknowledging strengths in others and supporting future goals/endeavors. I am grateful and excited to be learning, serving, and exploring the city, especially anything art and park related 🙂 Following my time here, I hope to begin pursuing a master’s degree in either Clinical Counseling or Art Therapy.