From time to time I hear  from one of the women who was a guest during my days at The House of Ruth that I founded to give women drug addicts a chance to heal in a free place where they would learn about God and the ravages of drugs on their bodies and their lives. 

Some of these women will always be some of my best friends.
I had been doing jail ministry a number of years and I will always remember the joys and the heartbreak of The House of Ruth.  Those you thought would take advantage of having all the clothes they needed, a beautiful room that had been decorated just for them, good meals, church on Sunday, being taught the Twelve Steps of recovery, getting them a decent job and every other advantage we were able to offer them plus trying to teach them how to live a good life when they got out on their own and still, instead, of some of them took advantage of all that was offered to them.
I was naive  back then and full of hopes and never doubted it would work.  It did sometimes and sometimes it didn’t.  One girl got very belligerent to the housemother and to me when she was caught taking our three-pound cans of donated coffee and five pound bags of sugar to work with her and when it was called to her attention her reply was, “Well, it was donated.”  This was the attitude of some of them but not all.
The following is part of a letter I wrote to her when she said she was leaving:
“(Name), life is all about decisions.  The one you just made included.  Imagine this.  One day a woman thinks to herself, “I want to help these women and the only way I can think of is to find a place for them to go away from all the druggie friends and maybe they can have a new start.  I, alone, founded The House of Ruth, saw to it that it was furnished, got free help with the remodeling for it was a mess.  Did a lot of the work myself.  It took months to get it livable.  Opened a thrift store paying $600 a month rent to support the House not knowing how much I would sell in a month; wrote a thick rules book which also included spiritual writings especially selected for all of you and each of you were given a copy when you moved in and we went over it with you so you would be sure to understand our rules.
Can you imagine taking on such a task just to help ‘old drug addicts?’  Not many people can.  Many times I am asked how I stand it.  I tell them with the Lord’s help I can bear anything.  
Your disrespectful remarks to (house mother) would have gotten you in trouble if you had stayed.  I demand that the residents respect her.  She has done nothing but help you and love you and try to teach you a way of life that includes a clean house as well as a clean way of living.
As far as your saying the sugar and coffee and whatever else you took was ‘donated’ you missed the point altogether.  Yes, it was donated for everyone at the House not just one resident.  We try to make the donated items go as far as we can so we wont have to dip into our donations to buy more.  The thrift store is barely paying the rent and utilities.  All the sugar the church donated is gone and we will again have to use some of our donations to buy more.
(Name), I wish you luck in whatever you decided to do but remember you can do nothing without the Lord’s help.  You can scoff at this or not but it is the truth and it will dawn on you one day when you are having to again sleep in some cold damp place, maybe even jail again.  Is jail really better to you than The House of Ruth as you said to us.  I understand you have remarked ‘Where are all the donations?’  They are in the bank but I can tell you where most of our money goes, to feed and clothe as many as five people at a time, to buy gas, groceries and other expenses.  Our house and store expenses run more than $2500 a month.  We spend as little as possible so we wont run out of money which has almost happened several times.  Actually it is none of the residents’ business.  You all get your part of the money we are able to provide.”
(I never paid myself anything).
I loved this girl and wanted to see her make it. I was at the jail one night several years after she left the House of Ruth and during our lesson this young woman came in from work release.  She ran to me and threw her arms around me and cried and cried saying, ‘I’m sorry. . .I’m so sorry.’  She wanted to know if she could come back when she got out and I told her yes but I never heard from her again.  I was told her new husband was also in jail.  A no-win situation.
I hope some of my experiences trying to help young women will be an example to someone else when someone is trying to help them.  It is so disappointing and hurtful when you give them your all and they still could care less.  Then there are those that will be my lifelong friends because they understood what an opportunity we had given them.  It makes my heart sing when I hear from one of them that is doing well and has a good sober life.  All of them, whether they made it or not, were each a blessing to me and I hope that what we tried to teach them came back to them even if it was years later.

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