Stories from House of Ruth

My last post told of the origins of B.I.R.D. Ministries and House of Ruth. Here are a few stories Linda Bird shared about the women she has served over the years.

The first woman who graduated from House of Ruth had only an 8th grade education when she arrived there. She had been living in a cycle of poverty, drug addiction and prison for over 30 years. She came to House of Ruth after her release from Lancaster County Prison, and over a period of months, she completed the structured program there (which includes drug and alcohol counseling, life skills education, personal and group Bible study, and mentoring), and received other services from partner agencies. This woman went on to get her GED, then she started taking classes at Harrisburg Area Community College. She has since graduated from HACC and is now attending Millersville University.

Another woman who came to House of Ruth from a state prison had lost custody of her children as a result of her incarceration. Through the program at House of Ruth, and the supportive network that Linda and others offered, she graduated from House of Ruth and went on to graduate from a secondary education program, get a job in a career field that she loves, get her driver’s license and a car, get her own apartment and . . . regain custody of her children. They live with her now in her apartment. She has become an active member of the House of Ruth alumni. Linda says, “She is a joy and an inspiration to our women and it is a privilege to call her my friend.”

Linda also told me about the Women Walking With Women mentoring program that is part of B.I.R.D. Ministries and House of Ruth. Here’s what she had to say:

Women Walking With Women is a unique thing that we really didn’t plan. It just happened. We try to put our women in social settings and groups where they will be around other women who can speak into their life. We find that when we create these opportunities, pairs or small groups of women just sort of gravitate to one another and the friendships begin. Women have a keen sense of nurturing that just seems to come to the forefront when around a woman in need of companionship. So we don’t have to do much. We just provide settings where the women can meet and begin to talk. The women in House of Ruth have developed bonds with other women who are older than themselves and sometimes with women who are younger. It is quite interesting. The most powerful of these relationships that comes to mind is one that started years ago with one of our women in House of Ruth who had a pen pal writing to her while she was in prison. These two women wrote back and forth for many years, but they never met until the one woman was released from state prison and came to House of Ruth. They have become very close and the mentor has been able to speak wisdom into this young woman’s life many times.

A recent article in the Lancaster newspaper highlighted BIRD Ministries and the financial challenges they and other similar organizations face with the current economic climate and funding cuts.

I asked Linda about the organization’s most pressing needs to keep BIRD Ministries and House of Ruth going. She said that they need money, obviously, to run these programs. But they also are currently using a van to transport the women and children that is 16 years old, has 183,000 miles on it and the heater in it doesn’t work. So they need a newer minivan. “Preferably one with a working heater,” Linda adds with a laugh. She said they also need a large replacement refrigerator (25-28 cu ft) for the house as their current refrigerator is very old and it doesn’t seal properly when the door is closed.

To see and hear more about the difference that B.I.R.D. Ministries and House of Ruth are making in the lives of women and their children, be sure to attend the

10th Anniversary Celebration & Open House at House of Ruth

Sunday, September 25, 2011
2:00 pm – 5:00pm
2086 New Danville Pike
Lancaster, Pa.
Guest Speaker: “Auntie” Anne Beiler

Posted by Melanie Tagged as: city life lancaster pa restorative justice criminal justice rmo

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