Kate, Garth and Eric

Kate, Garth and Eric

August is a month of homecomings at Joseph’s House. Actually, it is a month of farewells and homecomings. We begin the month saying final good-byes to our service year volunteers before welcoming back former volunteers and staff who return to help out for a week or two while we are short staffed. We are grateful for their return because we can more easily keep the house staffed during this time of transition. Without their service, we would need to hire fill-ins from a staffing agency. Their service saves us money, for sure, but it is a gift that is worth so much more.

The first to return this August were Eric Ogden and Garth Pearl. Eric was a service year volunteer ten years ago and has come back many times to help out over holidays and in the summer. His husband Garth, who, like Eric, teaches fourth grade in New York City, has been coming with him for several years to serve as well. Eric and Garth have kept in touch with a former resident who lived in the house during their time here last year and who later moved to another facility as his health improved. They arranged for him to come back to the house for a day and they basked in one another’s company, enjoying a leisurely Sunday on the deck. Another former resident who remains very much a part of community life became ill and ended up at the hospital for an evening, so Eric and Garth hosted a slumber party for her nine-year-old son while she got some much-needed rest.

As they were finishing up their time here, Kate Lichti arrived. Kate was also a service year volunteer and then lived in the house as a staff member before leaving two years ago to attend Yale Divinity School. Kate, too, pulled up alongside the residents with an ease that spoke of years of daily life at Joseph’s House. She made Coke bottle geysers with that same nine-year-old boy, led an expedition to see Lee Daniel’s The Butler, accompanied a resident on a marathon medical appointment, and cooked delicious meals that included mouth-watering rustic apple tarts and peach cobbler.

The ease and grace with which all three reenter the life of the community is beautiful to witness; the heart with which they serve means the house never stops feeling like a home, even in the midst of transition. And to hear them share at staff meetings about what it means to come back is to know that this gift they offer to us is also a gift to themselves.

Welcome home, friends.

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