A Sabbatical of Service

At Lehman’s, we believe in a simpler life, and we also believe in using our talents to serve others. That’s why we offer our staff a chance to take a break from work to do just that.

Many of our loyal customers may not know that our company offers full-time employees a 30-day sabbatical each year, “to pursue opportunities to promote the welfare of others, for engaging in private initiatives for public good, for improving the quality of life for others, and for pursuing individual educational advancement or similarly related activities (Lehman’s Employee Handbook).” Examples of service can include local or national disaster relief efforts, religious missions, and philanthropic volunteer programs.

This spring, Kitchen Category Manager Amy Murray and her husband Randy (a Mennonite pastor), decided to use Amy’s sabbatical time to volunteer at the International Guest House in Washington, D.C.

For almost 50 years, the International Guest House has been hosting visitors from all over the world. Located in the quiet, residential Brightwood neighborhood in Northwest D.C., the beautifully remodeled Georgian-style house is a peaceful haven from the rush of downtown.

A gracious bed and breakfast, the non-profit house is owned and maintained by the Allegheny Conference of Mennonite Church USA. It is run by an all-volunteer staff “eager to show the love of Christ through the ministry of hospitality to guests from all over the world (according to the house’s website).”

“I love working for a company that values service,” Amy said. “To be able to get away for one month, knowing my job would be waiting for me, was such a blessing. It was a time to learn more about myself, serve others and on days off Randy and I were able to explore our nation’s capital, too.” 

“Randy and I spent many days making breakfast, cleaning bathrooms and showing hospitality to guests from around the world,” she said. “On one of the first mornings, when I was making granola, I was complaining about the condition of the bowls and I mentioned that at Lehman’s we sell a set of stainless steel bowls that are far superior.  In fact, I had just purchased the set for my daughter who was recently married. 

“I expressed my wishes to Lehman’s, one thing led to another, and soon after that Lehman’s sent us a package of items that proved very useful at the guest house!

A huge stainless steel bowl from Lehman’s was just what the house kitchen needed. Here, Amy whips up a batch of homemade granola for the guests’ breakfast.

“We used the stainless steel bowls every morning to make freshly baked muffins for the guests,” Amy said.  “We had anywhere from 5 to 20 people at our breakfast table.  We used the two largest two bowls for granola and the occasional cinnamon roll fest!”

A batch of breakfast granola in the making, in one of Lehman’s stainless steel mixing bowls.
The guest house serves tea twice a day. Lehman’s provided a tea bag squeezer (available in our Kidron, Ohio store) that was put to use immediately, Amy said.
Amy Murray sweeps the house’s front walkway with a Lehman’s authentic corn broom, made by the Amish. “The city sidewalks need to be swept every day.,” Amy said “They are constantly covered with leaves, trash and other debris. Lehman’s corn broom really did the job.”

Now back in Ohio (and back to work at our bustling store), Amy reflected on the many blessings she and Randy experienced during their month of service:

“When I think of all the experiences we had living and working at the International Guest House, several things jump to the forefront,” Amy said. “We hosted many minorities from around the world and from the USA. Every day we began our day with a short meditation at the breakfast table, enjoyed a family-style breakfast, and then the guests would depart for the day.

The house offers comfortable accommodations in 5 guest rooms.

“There were 6 of us serving at the guest house. We would clean, mop and do laundry most of the day. I enjoyed baking the breakfast muffins and preparing lunch for the 6 staff members. Sometimes, when the weather cooperated, my husband and I would head outside in the afternoon. The yard work and flowerbeds seemed to supply an endless amount of ‘entertainment’ … that is, the entertainment of pulling weeds and spreading mulch! 

“But the memory for me that is so vivid is serving those who are often the ones who serve. I have enjoyed being privileged, and many of the guests who arrived at our guest house were on a limited budget and were used to serving others. They were amazed and surprised that we were cleaning the bathrooms, taking out the trash and mopping the floors. It was a joy to serve, and many who we served were not used to being ‘waited’ on.  It is hard to describe the joy it gave us to create a ‘home away from home’ to the guests who where spending time in Washington. 

A beautiful, welcoming sitting room and nightly tea service encourage conversation between guests.

“On our days off we enjoyed taking the city bus to the capital and monument area.  We found the people of DC willing to help and give directions.  Many locals gave us advice when traveling the bus, looking for landmarks and trying to navigate through the city.  Our neighbors greeted us as we worked outside and we practiced our limited Spanish on folks who were passing by. 

“Our time in DC seemed so short, but it was a blessing to be able to spend a month serving in our nation’s capital. And who knows, if Lehman’s continues to offer sabbaticals to their employees, we just may return!”

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