The calendar that Lydia Strauss lives out of is a work of art.
Marked up with scribbles and highlighted in myriad colors, the old-fashioned paper planner is chock full, a reflection of the fact that Strauss has three jobs and volunteers for 13 agencies. She estimates she works 90 hours a week and volunteers for another 10 hours.
But there is one critical function not reflected on her monthly grid.
"I have no idea when she sleeps," said Matthew Goldstein, executive director of Besa, a Columbus nonprofit that matches people – including Strauss – with volunteer opportunities.
Evidence of her packed schedule was on display on a recent weekday evening, when Strauss, 47, was helping to prepare deliveries for the Meals on Wheels program at the LifeCare Alliance facility in south Columbus.
While the other volunteers were in jeans and tennis shoes, Strauss wore a dark business suit. She had not had time to change, as she came straight from an all-day conference related to her job as a sexual-assault-survivor advocate.
When she finished at Meals on Wheels, Strauss was headed to her Worthington home to serve an overnight shift answering calls on a statewide sexual-assault-survivor hotline.
After that came two more volunteering shifts – for the Women's Fund of Central Ohio and the Girls on the Run race committee – followed by a 12-hour stint at another one of her jobs, this one as a supportive-living specialist at a facility that serves people with a range of disabilities. (She also works part-time in special events at Ohio State University's Wexner Center for the Arts.)
All told, in a 48-hour span, Strauss had only about nine unscheduled hours.
"Everything I do fits together," she said. "I put a lot of planning into each month."
For the record, she said, her sleep schedule varies.
"And I appreciate naps more than the common person, probably," she said.
But although her trusty calendar is good for illustrating the "whats" and "whens" of her life, it cannot explain the "why."
Strauss isn't comfortable talking about herself. She said part of her motivation to help others comes from growing up in Zoar (2017 population: 177) in Tuscarawas County.
"It was a very tight-knit community," she said, "and I absorbed the importance of being involved and sharing my time and talents."
She originally worked in retail and marketing, but said that after volunteering with Planned Parenthood in Stark County in 1995 she realized she wanted to focus on working in the social-service and human-service fields.
"I guess I feel lucky to be in the situation that I am in and that I have been blessed to have my life be on a good path," she said. "Some people aren't. We need to be a kinder society, we need to have empathy toward people ... who live in our community and might not have had the same luck or same past that we did.
"So here I am, and I am able to share those things."
For the past four years, she has shared her life with husband Matthew O'Kane. He works in sales and often travels. They met at a cookout.
"It helps that neither of us has a standard, 9-to-5 schedule," O'Kane said. "She seems to have a 9 a.m. to 9 a.m.-the-next-day thing. But we find time for each other as often as we can."
Those familiar with Strauss' work and volunteering say some of the traits that set her apart are dedication and dependability.
"Most people who are doing as much as Lydia aren't able to go that deep in a bunch of projects," Goldstein said. "They're kind of there but not completely there. With Lydia, wherever she is, she's present with her entire being."
Kate Koch is the founder of Bike Lady Inc., a Columbus nonprofit that donates bicycles to underprivileged children and also partners with the prison system, allowing inmates to build bikes to be donated.
Strauss has been volunteering for Bike Lady for about three years, Koch said.
"Lydia truly takes ownership of whatever she is doing," Koch said. "She does many things, and they may be very ordinary things sometimes, but she does them so well they become extraordinary."
Colleagues also cite her giving spirit.
Jes Mayhew, co-coordinator of the sexual-violence helpline for which Strauss works, calls her, "the ambassador of kindness. She is a very compassionate, giving, selfless person."
Koch in particular is effusive about Strauss's impact.
"There's a gem in Lydia Strauss," she said, "and I'm not sure Columbus would be quite the same without her spirit walking among us."