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Volunteer Spotlight: Ruth & Susan

Ruth and Susan are lifelong New Yorkers – Ruth was born in Flatbush and Susan on the Upper West Side. They became friends in the ‘70s when they started working as social workers in the same agency. In the 80s, Ruth worked to place children born with HIV in to foster homes when their sick parents couldn’t care for them. Susan originally worked as a caseworker and supervisor in child protective services and later became the assistant director of JCCA’s private adoption program.  Their need to serve others was so encompassing, so much a part of their identities they both ended up married to social workers.

In 2011, Ruth and Susan retired, just a month apart from each other. It was then that they had the freedom to finally do whatever they wanted when they wanted.  For the first time in decades they experienced the freedom of not needing to leave the house in the snow on a brutal winter’s morning and of not having to commute home through the sweaty masses on a sweltering summer’s day.  And with all this autonomy what Ruth and Susan chose was what came naturally to them their whole working lives – they chose to continue in the service of others.

And God’s Love was the grateful recipient of all that Ruth and Susan still had to give.  They’d learned of us through another friend who had been volunteering here for years. They began working in meal kit assembly on Wednesdays, and they both added additional days to their week: Ruth works in the kitchen on Tuesday and Susan works another meal kit assembly shift on Monday.

Ruth tells us, “I’m glad I’m doing something worthwhile. We’ve done that all our lives, and volunteering at God’s Love feels like an extension of that. The thing that’s really extraordinary are the friendships that we’ve developed here. And I love seeing exactly how my work is supporting the clients.

I work in the kitchen on Tuesday and I tell you, when I work in meal kit assembly on Wednesdays and I pick up a meal, I think “oh my gosh, I helped pack this out!” I love being a part of the process.”

Susan tells us, “It gives me a sense of responsibility. I enjoy the work and I love the people. And I love how necessary and urgent our work is: one of my neighbors was getting food from here, and it was really nice to know that what I was doing at God’s Love, he was the recipient of.”

Volunteers like Ruth and Susan are the heart of who we are at God’s Love and through their unfailing enthusiasm and their choice to serve with us when they could be spending their retirement in so many other ways makes all that we do possible.