Ruth’s House set for community support

Published 12:21 am Thursday, August 23, 2012

The building is about to be purchased — the next step in the construction of a place offering refuge to domestic violence victims. What started out as an idea to serve the unmet needs in the county was fleshed out, resulting in an ecumenical, community project called Ruth’s House.
For the past year, the founders of Ruth’s House have been ironing out the details, developing policies and operational methods to build a firm foundation for the shelter, according to Rev. Kevin Johnson, rector of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Washington and Ruth’s House board member. But as the day approaches when Ruth’s House doors will open, Johnson believes it’s time to get the community involved.
“Our goal is to have community ownership,” Johnson said. “What we don’t want to do is rely so much on public monies that it interferes with our ability to stay faith-based and community-owned.”
Community-owned means community-supported, and Johnson is looking for a point of contact with every church in Beaufort County, seeking volunteers and ways to inspire locals to financially support the shelter.
“We all understand, this is necessary,” said Johnson of the decision to build a domestic violence shelter.
The necessity of building a long-term sustainable shelter has sent Johnson out to speak at Rotary meetings, to women’s groups, reminding residents that Ruth’s House will exist — and soon.
“We have enough money right now to operate for a year and put a down payment on a house, “ Johnson said.
While individual donations to the project so far will provide the actual house, as well as its upkeep, day-to-day operations of Ruth’s House will fall to the Center for Family Violence Prevention, an established Pitt County agency that has taken on domestic violence counseling and victim advocacy in the absence of a Beaufort County organization. It’s a partnership Johnson feels will benefit both agencies.
“They provide services, we provide community,” explained Johnson.
From the first, the Ruth’s House board anticipated spending a year nailing down the details, then work on the physical manifestation of Ruth’s House, according to Johnson. Now that time has come, he’s out drumming up support for the victims of domestic violence and the place that will shelter them in Beaufort County.
“Our original time line was to open up sometime in the fall and we’re right where we want to be,” he said. “It’s really exciting to be a part of this and see it come to fruition.”