The Spirit of Hospitality

By Alex Kartheiser

For many of us, the holidays remind us of where we belong. We make arrangements to visit family and friends near and dear to us. After all, home is where the heart is, right? Imagine for a moment that such a place no longer exists. What would you do? How would you feel? For the women
at Abby’s House, the idea of home is often a distant memory, or perhaps something they have never fully experienced.
At the core of Abby’s House is hospitality, not just during the holidays but year round – “By offering warm hospitality, we seek to be in relationships of caring and support.” We are a safe haven for women, a place to belong. Our community provides the atmosphere of support and encouragement. Through volunteers and staff, we offer the spirit of hospitality each and every day for the women who enter our doors.
We acknowledge that every woman is unique and her situation requires individual attention. Cheryl, a resident who has lived at Abby’s for a year, says she feels successful because of the staff. “I have a sense of security at Abby’s. Through my advocates, I am learning how to love myself. I am regaining
confidence and creating positive friendships here. I feel like I am getting to know who I am again.” Our shelter and housing advocates receive, on average, 26 phone calls a day, and they carefully listen and respond to each caller. Our Women’s Center provides coffee and treats every morning to residents and guests, which allows for an
opportunity to listen to and share stories. Sue,
a shelter guest, says, “you allow women from the shelter to come to the Women’s Center and always try to make them feel better. You give us the
opportunity to make friends and help us with
our housing situation.”
The volunteers of Abby’s House make our organization a warm and welcoming place for guests and residents. Their presence is felt throughout the
organization. Our reception volunteers, who are the first point of contact for anyone looking for information, are always ready to help. They are willing to offer an answer to any question or concern. Eileen, a volunteer for 9 years, is happy to make a difference. “I feel that I am helping in a small way to assist staff and residents. I try to ease some of the daily stress and Abby’s House allows me to socialize in a positive and friendly way. It’s the people that give Abby’s a homey feeling.” Thrift Shop volunteers work diligently to keep the store running smoothly. They search through piles of donations to find items for shoppers and make it a fun and welcoming place to visit. Isa, a veteran Thrift Shop volunteer of 12 years says, “I have had the privilege of getting to know the women who have shopped at the Thrift Shop regularly over the years. I have gotten to know their children or have assisted with an important life event, like helping someone choose the right outfit for an interview or for their daughter’s wedding. I also receive a sense of satisfaction when I can help the Spanish speaking women feel comfortable, knowing that they can communicate with others here.” Meals are always at the center of all of our gatherings. Our kitchen volunteers thoughtfully prepare delicious and nutritious meals that our women enjoy. They serve the women just like they would serve their own family. Lastly, our shelter volunteers provide safety, security, and comfort to women who are temporarily calling Abby’s House home. They oversee meals, listen to their cares and concerns, and provide laughter and support.
For the past 36 years our donors, volunteers, staff, and board members have provided hospitality to each and every woman and child at Abby’s House. Because of the generosity of so many people, our women will have a warm place to live, because of
a new roof; a child in our shelter will feel cared for, because of a toy received; residents and shelter guests will feel special, because of the gift bags
we distribute each Christmas. These are not just gifts, but reminders that our residents belong somewhere; that they are part of a family.
As the holidays approach, we at Abby’s House are grateful for the community that surrounds and supports us. Because of you, we can continue to extend hospitality to everyone who comes to our door. We hope that the smell of holiday meals and the colorful glow of holiday lights will make all of us feel a little more at home this season, give us a little more peace, and a real sense of how our mission of hospitality is alive each and every day.