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Ruth’s House closes antique store amidst COVID challenges

Ruth’s House Antiques has closed its doors permanently, leaving Beaufort County’s leading domestic violence prevention organization with less revenue to cover expenses at the Ruth’s House shelter and individual needs for clients.

“We’ve had to close our shop downtown, which was our biggest fundraiser,” explained Ruth’s House Client Services Coordinator Jaclyn Cullipher. “Every month, it covered our mortgage for our shelter, so that’s definitely a huge financial hit for us. We’re kind of apprehensive about what’s coming in the future.“

Since COVID-19 hit in March, the antique shop downtown has been closed. Even though the store is allowed to reopen, Cullipher says Ruth’s House was unwilling to put its volunteers, many of whom are older adults, in harm’s way.

“With the combination of COVID and the construction downtown, we haven’t been able to open back up, and we’ve gotten to a point where we don’t know when it’s going to be OK to open the shop,” she said.

Although Ruth’s House receives some funding through state and federal grants, those funds are often restricted for specific purposes. In addition to the shelter’s mortgage, Cullipher says the antique shop has historically provided the nonprofit with funds to help cover its shelter-operating expenses and various needs clients might have.

“The donations we get from our community are a little bit more free-flowing,” Cullipher said. “Those are things we can use for that emergency assistance for clients.”

‘CALM BEFORE THE STORM’

In some cases, Cullipher says clients have been hesitant to enter the Ruth’s House shelter due to concerns about COVID-19. In the coming months, however, she thinks the nonprofit may see an increased demand for those services.

“It’s the calm before the storm,” Cullipher said. “We’ve been waiting for it to happen, but it hasn’t happened yet. We’re basically doing the same numbers we usually do, but I feel like when people feel safer about what COVID is and how to prevent the spread, I think we’ll definitely have an influx in people seeking shelter.”

As more people have spent more time at home during the pandemic, the issue of domestic violence has become even more pressing. Cullipher says the hesitation to enter a communal shelter setting, coupled with complications in seeking services through court systems, has led some victims to try to deal with the issue on their own.

“We definitely want to let them know that we’re here to offer those services in a safe way,” Cullipher said. “We can meet with people virtually or remotely. However we can assist, you don’t have to go through this alone. We’re here to listen, and we’re here to help. I’d hate to think there is someone at home taking this on all by themselves when we’re ready, willing and able to help them get through this.”

HOW TO HELP

In the coming months, Ruth’s House will see an increased need for financial support from the community to maintain its shelter operations. While that will be a pressing need, Cullipher says there are a variety of ways to help support the cause, from donating materials for use at the shelter to simply being an advocate for domestic violence awareness.

Here are some ways you can help:

  • Donate financially. Contributions can be made online at www.ruths-house.org, or sent by mail to Ruth’s House at P.O. Box 2843, Washington, NC 27889.
  • Create a move-in kit. These kits are used to help clients and their families become established once they move into a new location after leaving a violent situation. Kits are made up of a laundry basket filled with household items including: a broom and dust pan, oven mitts, silverware, plates and bowls, baking sheets, pots, pans, cooking utensils, a plunger, toilet bowl cleaners, shower curtain liners and rings, screwdrivers, flashlights, batteries scissors, dust cloths and sponges.
  • Donate items for the shelter. Each quarter, Ruth’s House puts out a list of items needed to maintain a clean, comfortable living space for its clients. Cleaning supplies needed for the fall include disinfectant wipes and spray, laundry detergent, Febreze plug-in refills, air freshener and bleach. Household items needed include a dolly for moving heavy items, white bath towels, white hand towels, 13- and 3-gallon trash bags, size 3, 4 and 5 diapers, Swiffer pads and refills, oven mitts, disposable plates and cups, zip lock bags, AA and AAA batteries, furnace filters (12×24, 20×24, 20×20, 14×14), a box cutter and K-cups.
  • Be an advocate. October marks Domestic Violence Prevention Month, and Ruth’s House will lead a variety of online outreach efforts throughout the month. Details on these efforts and more community outreach can be found on social media by following @ruthshouseDV.

If you or someone you know is suffering from domestic abuse, call the Ruth’s House help line at 252-940-0007. To learn more about supporting Ruth’s House or about its education and outreach programs, call 252-946-0709.