Living Hospitality

Grandmother and grandson pose for photo in mini fruit truck

Lynn and her grandson on an excursion

It's the special people we meet along life's road who help us appreciate the journey through many of life’s seasons.

Anyone who has ever visited or called the Fetzer Institute has very likely encountered Lynn Underwood, who has worked at our reception desk for nearly 23 years. We endearingly call her the face and voice of the Fetzer Institute. Lynn is kind, caring, present, calm. She has a sense of humor, an infectious laugh, an always helpful impulse…and she’s a good dancer! She is the embodiment of hospitality.

If you were to ask around our staff, you’d hear an outpouring of gratitude for her kindness to our guests and visitors (numbering in the thousands). Lynn has faithfully patched through our business calls, sure, but also calls from our family and friends, and in so doing she’s helped us raise our children, tend to families, celebrate milestones, and bear life’s struggles. She has an intimate understanding of each of us individually and the whole of us as a community. And for 22+ years, she’s held us in her confidence and love.

We call her a role model; friend; an encouraging, supportive work mom; and Bible study buddy. We say:

I am so grateful for her love, care, and concern when it came to my kids calling me at work. I have always told my kids if they had to contact me during the work day, they were to call my cell phone and not bother Lynn. Not any more, when they do call in, they LOVE to talk with Lynn.

You are a true gift of hospitality for how Fetzer receives the wider world and how the world receives us. I'll always remember your encouragement as I'd go out the door for my noontime jogs and your pleasant greeting upon seeing me return.

Truly one of the bright lights and loving spirits in all my time here at Fetzer.

I wonder what the number of guests has been since you started and how many returning guests have landed in Kalamazoo knowing they would see your smiling face soon and be welcomed "home."

Think about it. Who on your daily path offers up kindness routinely? Exudes love, warmth, generosity, and graciousness to friends and strangers alike? Lynn has set the tone for the type of hospitality we at Fetzer strive to extend both in person and through our work, and we’ve had the benefit of her time and example for decades. So as we celebrate her leaving us and opening a new door of life, we commit to carrying forward her example of hospitality and generosity of spirit. We remind ourselves of the importance of daily greetings (like "hi, hon"), and invite you to consider the helpers in your life. Who in your sphere adds an immeasurable dose of care, kindness, or joy to your day?