A home filled with hope
At first glance, Ruth House doesn't stand out. The two-bedroom home at 1901 N. 12th St. in Superior, however, is packed with promise. It opens today as a clean, safe house for the homeless, underprivileged and those coming out of addiction.
From 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays, anyone who walks in the door will be provided with warmth and options. Visitors can work on their GED or meet with tutors, speak to a case manager about getting services or a treatment assessment, take a shower, wash a load of clothes and find support.
"The Ruth House is a long overdue necessity in Superior," said Faye Livangood, a member of the Ruth House Committee.
It's something fellow committee member Dori Stepan has thought about opening for years.
"Because I see these people coming in here, they're homeless," said Stepan, food pantry manager for the Salvation Army of Superior. "They have nowhere to go. They sit at the library; they sit at Super One, places to be warm. Now they have the opportunity to go to a house."
The faith-based, nondenominational Ruth House is there to lend a helping hand and connect them to local services and support — a bus pass, a sandwich, ministry counseling, a voucher for clothing.
"Everyone is a human being. Everyone matters," said Keri Wirtanen, case manager/social worker at the Salvation Army. "You can't judge a person by their past, you always have to look toward their future."
That's why she joined the Ruth House Committee.
Livangood got involved because of a family crisis.
"We all go through the world like this, with blinders on, until it affects our life," she said. "And then when the blinders come off, the humanity of it, you have to help. You have to do something."
More than 20 people from all walks of life are involved with the ministry, which is privately funded.
"I was surprised when I first walked into a meeting, how many people were sitting there," Stepan said.
"People are behind us because they know there's a need," said Livangood, who works at Superior, Water, Light & Power.
The catalyst for the clean, safe house was Jack Swonger, community outreach pastor for Walking Victorious, a nonprofit street, jail and prison ministry.
"He had a dream and God led him this way," Stepan said.
Swonger was quick to point out that the Ruth House Committee are the ones in charge. Ruth House will remain under Walking Victorious' umbrella only until its own nonprofit status is set.
The need is real. Wirtanen said she knows of at least 10 people who will stop by Ruth House.
"It's going to work," Stepan said.
Everyone is welcome.
"You've got to treat people like a person and I think a lot of these people have been pushed to the side and not treated like a human," Wirtanen said. "They've just been treated like a number."
Gaining people's trust is important, she said, so they can open up and let you help. She and Stepan said Ruth House's biggest potential impact is in helping people get jobs and housing.
"I think just having success stories over there from people who have come out and they're clean and safe and sober now; that's going to help people know they can do it," Wirtanen said.
For those launching the clean, safe house, it's a chance to make a difference.
"This is a crisis that is in our communities all over the country and we owe it to each other as human beings to just reach out and love on each other," Livangood said. "And that's all it is, is loving each other."
Ruth House is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.