I have just begun my second year as a MissionCorps and resident of The Michael House. Since moving in on January 15, 2015, I have lived with 36 women, and 9 born babies, and have lived with as many as 14 women at one time. Regardless of our individual characters or habits, that’s a big deal. Imagine having 36 roommates in one year of college!
For what a Maggie’s Place house is (seven to 12 women of very diverse backgrounds living together with frequent move-ins and move-outs), it’s an amazingly calm, peaceful, and conflict free place (most of the time!).
In part, this is accomplished by following a set of rules hammered out through 15 years of lessons learned in community. Even with the rules, however, it still manages to be a home. We all come from different communities, different versions of “home”. Maybe they were strong communities, full of love and tenderness. For some, I’m sure that’s true. But for many, it’s not. And these quiet evenings at home, with chatting and a movie, may be the quietest nights these moms had in a long time.
They often haven’t had the sort of home that is quiet or cozy in a while, and the peacefulness of the house strikes them when they move in. It always warms my heart when they point it out. We’re a shelter, yes. They have a roof. They have a bed. But it is our privilege to be able to provide so much more, by living here ourselves and making it a home.
Our live-in model is surprising or even shocking to people when I give them a tour or tell them about what I do. It’s a pretty crazy idea to open your home to near strangers and welcome them into your family. Our founders were a little bit crazy, but the good kind of crazy that when I learned about it I thought, “Sign me up!” And I love it and am still amazed by it.
I get to live here! I get to live with the women I serve! I don’t just work a shift where they live. I live here too. I say goodnight to them as I head to bed. Sure, we don’t share a room, but we share our couch, our dining room table, our bathrooms, our home. We live together. Really live together. Like you live with your family, or your friends in college. We watch movies together, we paint nails. We cook. We clean. We get sick of each other. We annoy each other. We talk, we laugh, we wonder who ate all the cake in the middle of the night.
It’s this shared life that makes Maggie’s Place so unique. This place is a home. Their home and my home. Our home.
By Lily Key, a MissionCorps member