As first introduced in a story and video interview, women of Lake County gathered in an effort to meet the fundraising goal of $20,000 to benefit the Ruth House located in Umatilla, Florida. The Ladies Tea has been The Ruth House’s signature fundraising event for the last five years. However, to understand the goal and mission of Ruth House is to truly understand the significance of the fundraiser beyond the dollars and cents.
The Ruth House is literally just that…a house. About an hour north of Orlando in the rural community of Umatilla, there is a three-bedroom home that sits quite unassumingly on the side of the main road that runs through the center of the small town. Once the home where Ruth House founder Rebecca Randall and her husband raised their own children, it is now a home to women who find their lives in a state of transition.
The front door of the Ruth House opens to a living room that looks as if it could be in the home of any suburban family- a stark contrast to the sterile waiting room one may expect in a traditional treatment facility. Walking through the home and back onto the porch, there was one of the residents working through her Bible study, while another was getting ready for work and founder/ director Randall was diligently working in her office. Pictures and note cards line the walls reminding the women of the love- love of God, love from the community, and from each other- that fills their transitional home.
Randall commented that many of the women were winding down their day, but a few of the residents were willing to share the details of what their typical day at Ruth House often consists of and what living at Ruth House has come to mean to them.
After the woman shared their stories and how living at Ruth House has changed them for the better, it was Randall’s turn to give her closing thoughts on last month’s fundraiser. Having spoken to the residents first, it gave perspective to the true impact of the Ladies Tea Fundraiser. “This year’s was probably the biggest successful fundraiser in the history of Ruth House. While we had a goal to reach $20,000 and we actually raised $15,310.00. For that, we are so excited and thankful.”
In addition to the Ladies Tea, the opening of a thrift store just a couple of blocks down the street from The Ruth House was intended to provide year around income in support of the Ruth House mission. However, after approximately a year and half, Randall shared how it has come to mean so much more.
“What we found in the last year we have gained much more than financial support. We have the ability to take women who have not worked for quite some time, and they now have something to build their resume with. They learn customer service, they learn how to use a cash register, they learn how to tag clothes, retail sales, and are face to face with the community in which we live in. So, we started the thrift store for the reason of financial support and God showed us so much more and how He was going to build up the women of Ruth House through their volunteering and giving back to Ruth House. Its just really cool how it all comes full circle.”