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Ruth's Story

Ruth grew up in D.C. and, as she describes it, “life was good.”

She graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in art, got married, and had two kids – all while continuing to teach. Then, her mother got sick.

“My parents had helped me get through school. They’d helped me through my divorce and helped raise my kids. Of course I moved in to help them.”

After her mother died, Ruth continued her role as caretaker when her dad was diagnosed with dementia and cancer.
But when her dad passed, everything fell apart. Ruth’s siblings came in and took over.

“My brother came with a lawyer and took me to court. They told me to get out.”

For the first time in her life, Ruth had nothing. She stayed as long as she could, trying to find a job. The power and gas were shut off, and Ruth would walk miles to the library to stay warm during the day. She learned how to use food stamps and local food pantries. Without a phone or electricity, she lost contact with her sons.

“Finally, after the water had been shut off for a full week at the house, I knew I couldn’t stay any longer.”

Ruth remembered that a friend had mentioned N Street Village – so she took what she could and left.

Ruth arrived at the Village’s emergency and temporary shelter, the Patricia Handy Place for Women. They helped her get a bed and clothes. She started going to N Street Village’s Day Center where she could get meals and do her laundry. Best of all, she was able to start making artwork through the Village’s art classes.

“At that point I started to feel hope again.”


Ruth at the 2019 Gala & Auction next to her artwork.

Today, Ruth has become an integral part of the Village family. She often volunteers her time as a receptionist in the Wellness Center and has been able to start teaching art again as a part-time substitute. In addition, she was proud to share her story in The Washington Post this past winter.

And, just a few months ago, Ruth was able to work with the staff at N Street Village to move from Patricia Handy into the Village’s Permanent Supportive Housing program, where she has her own room and plenty of space to keep her art supplies and a growing portfolio.

“I still have a long way to go, but I am hopeful about what the future holds.”

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