Holidays are Here

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

How does your family celebrate or remember the year, the family, the friends, the joys and losses?

Share your traditions and let’s see who has similar or new traditions.

We decorate the Christmas tree as soon after Thanksgiving as we can. So pretty!

Then we come up with: one thing we need, one thing we’ll wear, and one thing we’ll read. We may or may not get everything on the list.

We host a winter party, usually around the Feast of St. Nicholas. We make ornaments and gifts, have pizza, desserts, and homemade hot chocolate. Yum! Our hope is to soon have an office location where we can invite our clients and friends to join us annually.

We spend the rest of the month making Christmas cards or other goodies. Cookies, cake, or candies – so much sugar!

We go to church for the services and fellowship. The church does a Secret Santa, so we participate in that.

We do Secret Santa and a card exchange, and really enjoy getting to see where our new friends and old live.

On Christmas Eve, the kids get to open (1) one gift, then we *usually* light a fire (though we haven’t this year).

When the teenager is home, we open gifts Christmas morning and when she’s not, the younger one opens 1-2 gifts and we wait until her sister is with us.

There’s lots of food, tons of hanging out with friends, and making new connections.

We miss family and friends who have gone on before and hold them dear to our hearts.

What are some of your favorite traditions or ways to celebrate the closing of a year? What are some ways you remember your dearly loved ones?

A Refreshing of Our Dreams

 A Reminder:


As I sat in a quiet room this morning, listening to the sound of water fall, I was reminded that maybe I’m pushing too much, too hard.
See, when I originally founded LYDIA, the idea was to have a place – maybe a coffee shop or cafe, maybe just have hot water and regular coffee – that our clients and friends could come hang out. We would have books to read, some to purchase, but our goal wouldn’t be on selling anything (other than items created by our clients, rare books, etc.).
What does this mean? To me, it means that all these challenges of HOW would we fund a bookstore and HOW would we compete with a certain online retailer….while they should be considered, shouldn’t be our focus.
Instead, our goal would be to create community and train clients.

I remembered a peer mentorship program I participated in before I had my second baby (2005); we all met at the department of children’s services and had coffee or tea, cookies, and a nice talk. That’s where the idea behind LYDIA began to take root.
At the college, before I got pregnant with the baby and went on bedrest (2006), we held a women’s tea – it didn’t go off as planned, but the survey revealed a deeper need.

In 2007, I had a prematurely born baby and a 3 yo/almost 4 years old child. I was a single mom, trying to go back to school and make ends meet. We met with and used the services of Maury United Ministries (MUMs). They had a Bible study and get together for clients, where we could take our children with us or find a babysitter.
Where we lived in the projects, there was a community center that held big events like Christmas parties, information on HUD changes, or even orientation.

   The Dream:

Here’s what I envision, taking form more than a decade ago. You walk into an inviting room. There’s the scent of fresh-brewed coffee on the air, and the smell of well-read books. There’s a welcome friend sitting in the corner, in an overstuffed chair. S/he looks up, a smile gracing his or her face, and you head over, browsing along the way. Glass cases house antiques and classics. Art that clients have created line the walls and small hand-made items for sale, such as jewelry, throw pillows, area rugs (hand tied), etc. can be found in little nooks and crannies. You hear the quiet hum of computers running in the background; the computers are for clients’ and students’ use, therefore kept separate from the Book Lounge. Beyond the book lounge are classrooms and conference halls for workshops and training opportunities. Behind the classrooms and conference halls are the administrative offices and our business apparel clothes closet.

We also have a child care center. Here, clients who are looking for work can drop their children off for a few hours a day to fill out applications and go to job interviews with no worries of needing a babysitter. These services are offered at $1/day or 1 hour of time doing work for the teachers or cleaning. We have a daycare center where clients who have gained employment are able to bring their children for the first six weeks at their new job; this is so they can safely save up to pay the deposit and have enough to supplement the state waiver for childcare. Finally, there is the option for clients employed with us (running the Book Lounge/Cafe, doing administrative work, or managing the clothes closet) to leave their children in our center. This is to promote and improve familial relations (taking lunch with their children or being available as needed).
I’ve been asked if we’ll have a sick room. This would be ideal. I’ve also been asked if we’ll have special needs teachers. As I have special needs children, I would love to be able to secure these dear people.

We’ll have something for the teens and young adults to do. Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights will be when teens can work together on projects, produce band and drama nights, and generally hang out in a safe environment. My hope is to partner with local teen and young adult agencies already in our community that have similar or compatible programs.

The Reality:

We have a business apparel clothes closet. We do online non-medical case management and life coaching. We do networking and are making connections within the community.

 The Need: 

Even to start small, we need an office location as we currently work from my home. We need to be able to store and sort clothes. We need to be able to meet with clients. We need to be able to offer an internship program for high schoolers and collegiate students. We need somewhere to begin building community.


So, we’re taking a step back, breathing easy, and hope to meet you soon. Please, let us know how we can help you build a stronger community, together.

Dress to Success Clothes Drive



From now until September 4th, we are accepting your professional attire. Our model will try on clothes and we’ll take pictures of the various outfits, then we’ll post them on our facebook page: LYDIA, Inc. after September 5th.

We accept your generosity all-year. To arrange a drop-off time, please call 505-913-7160. Please only gently used or new items for male and female clients: belts, purses, briefcases, ties, shoes, costume jewelry, uniforms, dresses, shirts and blouses, suits, pants and slacks, undershirts, and (no holes, not torn, no whitewashed or otherwise “styled”) jeans.

Life Skills Classes

Okay, now. I know we’re already offering this one, and of course we have our blog!

How about learning to shop on your foodstamps – get the most for your “money”? Shopping for the day you come off your foodstamps? Learning to budget to account for the amount of foodstamps you receive, so that when you budget your new income, it’s not a hard adjustment to make – if I get $290 in foodstamps now, I have to include that $290 in my food budget for when I’m not on foodstamps anymore.

Budgeting – see above. Also learning how to enjoy life on no-to-little income. You can share your tips and tricks with us!

Hygienic concerns.

Cleanliness (don’t look at my house. Seriously, stop on by, we’ll share a cup of tea and a conversation. Cross my fingers, we’ll hope to make it a good one!)

What would you like to know? How to change a tire? How to make proper change? How to wash clothes – read labels? How to sweep and cover the most space? Mopping? Canning? Sewing? Wood-working? Metal-smithing? Real life, hands-on skills? How to wash dishes and get all the grease off? Water conservation – that one I need to work on, myself.

Participatory classes.

Real teachers who will answer your questions.

So much more than a computer screen or someone on a video telling you what to do.

What do you think is most important to learn? Work with us to customize a program to meet the needs of the community.

Youth Programs

What youth programs do we want to offer? Why do we want to offer youth programs, and how will they differ from what’s already available in Santa Fe?

Peer mentorship and tutoring. Youth will help each other, form groups, and support one another on life’s journeys.


Performance nights: teens will be able to present their skills.


Bands/band nights: teen bands will be able to perform and earn a percentage of the proceeds from selling tickets. Teens will create their own marketing plan and carry out advertising their event. The rest of the proceeds will go back into the Youth programs.

Teens will be able to find employment either with or through LYDIA, if that is their desire, create their own programs and pursue their avenues of interest in a safe, healthy environment. Teens will work closely with other youth-oriented service providers in Santa Fe to make a program that meets – if not all, then most of – their needs.


The Book Lounge and Cafe

So why a bookstore? Because I love reading. Because I want to share my passion for reading and learning. Because meeting, connecting, over a good book – there’s nothing else like it.


How will it work? Well, clients who want to work with us will sign a contract, in which they agree to abide by the standard “tardies, bullying, and sobriety” responsibilities. Clients, who are then employees, will be cross-trained – able to work on the floor and in the back office. We will also have our employees who can work the floor and the cafe (kitchen staff is limited to the kitchen).

antique books

So, the book lounge will be a place for clients and community members to come and browse, borrow a book, have a nice cuppa and read right there. Want to buy a book? We can help you find it. I remember being pregnant with my first daughter and spending hours at my ex-husband’s work – a bookstore. I knew more about Christian romance at the time, and my ex (we were still married at the time) would bring seekers to discuss books with me. It was enjoyable and I got to meet a good number of people. There was a lovely family who had their own struggles – and an on-site cafe.

The Cafe. What will be so unique about the Cafe? Clients who receive services from local area organizations will be able to bring in a voucher for a meal. The vouchers will cover up to $10. That will include a healthy hot meal, or a cold sandwich, a drink, and a side. Why do we want to do this?

woman drinking coffee

I remember when both my children were still considered “babies” – for $6 I could go to a specific restaurant on Friday nights and feed myself and both kids. I would get the salad bar with a country-fried steak and side of mashed potatoes. If I got water to drink, I could keep the cost to an even $6. I would eat the salad bar and the girls would share the “entree”. The staff would turn a blind eye when I shared my potato salad and cole slaw. It was a nice way for us to get out of the house, mingle with people, and eat something we didn’t have to cook.

Following certain guidelines, we will also have a garden and use fresh foods as much as possible.

Military personnel will receive a 25% discount throughout the entire store – barring already discounted items. Family members with proper ID will receive a 15% discount.

Does this sound workable? Doable? Feasible? Let us know your thoughts on the matter.

Why LYDIA, pt 3

Thank you for your interest in LYDIA, Inc.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! It’s a day of green – in many ways……

Many people have asked me what my vision is for LYDIA. I want to post a brief overview of the current programs (which you can find out more about by visiting our website and going to “Programs we Offer”)….But I’ll expand on the programs in detail in future posts.

Firstly, our job-training program. We want to have a bookstore and cafe – why a retail store? Why a bookstore? Honestly? Because I love reading. I’ll talk more about this store at length in our post on the Book Lounge. Why a cafe? Because everyone has to eat and I love to cook. There’s some good news in store for our clients, too. Partnerships with local area businesses, possibly including a grant match type situation.

Our job-skills training will match mentors with clients who want to learn hands-on trade and/or encourage clients who attend trade or vocation school.

Our child-care solutions will approach child-care needs in a 3-fold approach.

Transportation will be volunteer-based/driven.

Youth programs will include tutoring, drama teams, and band nights.

There is, of course, so much more we want to do and offer. But we want to hear from you, our community.




You CAN Make a Difference

This article was shared with us:

Here are the highlights: A homeless man, down-on-his-luck, refused to stay “stuck” and peppered his local community with his resume and applications for work. He landed a job as a cook – which is what his resume reflected he had experience and maybe even joy in doing.

Times are tough. Times are hard. Times are challenging. Mr. Callison was most likely overlooked for quite some time because he’s homeless. Because he couldn’t afford his own uniform. Because of his looks. Because of his living conditions…

Because of “preconceived notions” and “stereotypes”, we face hardship finding work, developing safe living arrangements, having our needs met….and we project our own irritation and anger at others because of what we experience. And we often find ourselves “stuck” in this situation – one of our own making or one that has been “forced” on us because of the economy, because of jobs being sent overseas…because of our own biases- because we live with an “us versus them” mentality. This is a mentality that LYDIA hopes to break, and change, by working to build a stronger sense of community and individuality. We do not strive to offer a hand out, but rather, a hand up. We hope to build families up, encouraging and lifting us all higher than our current circumstances.

outstretched hands

Sometimes, we face a feeling of defeat, that we just can’t go another day. No matter that we have good things in our lives, like our families, our children, our friends, people who need us or like us – we feel despair. Our affect – that is, our face, our bearing (the way we hold ourselves), and the way we present ourselves can be influenced by our feelings. When you feel that despair, that lack of hope in making ends meet, of being enough or being satisfied, reach out. Reach out to your community. Pepper your immediate sphere of influence with the things you offer.

Right now, wherever you are, list three things that you KNOW you can do, already do, or even just want to do. Who can benefit from you doing them? List three people.

girl writing in diary

Now, take another moment. Look around you. Who do you see? How do you think they feel? Is that smile a little too bright? Are their eyes shifting uncomfortably away, because they don’t know how to be recognized? Are they tired? Hopeless? Are they just like you? Sometimes, it helps to realize that there are others out there just. like. me. Oh, maybe their circumstances are a little different. Maybe you think that no one could possibly understand. Do you understand them? Do you want to wallow in your despair, hitting your head against that brick wall that you’ve marked out as yours? Or do you want to make a difference, discover your community, and broaden your horizons?


How can we rise to the challenge? How can we support each other in our endeavors to provide for our families? How do we work together, help each other, and encourage one another?

Let’s talk.


Clothes Closet Drive

Clothes Drive Banner


Come out and help us collect professional attire for our first semi-annual community clothes closet drive!
Running August 24th-September 5th, we’re asking for your business professional attire. Anything gently-worn or like-new, from jeans and t-shirts to slacks and blouses, ties and cuff-links to costume jewelry, scarves, hats, briefcases to purses…we want it all!

All donations are tax-deductible.

Steps to “Size Up” Your Current Situation

Sizeup – as presented by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency)

The nine steps in “sizeup” are:

Gather the facts.
Assess and communicate the damage.
Consider probabilities.
Assess your own situation.
Establish priorities.
Make decisions.
Develop plans of action.
Take action.
Evaluate progress.

So how can LYDIA help you in your current situation? Continue Reading →