Mary and Bill Ruth began their volunteer work through the UCC's Partners in Service program back in 2003, doing long-term service stints of nine months or more. They are currently on their sixth assignment, volunteering with Wider Church Ministries in Cleveland.
The Ruths still consider Elon, N.C., home, where they are members of Elon Community UCC, but their various assignments have taken them all over the country working for non-profit agencies.
Bill says being flexible is the name of the game.
Living in various types of housing, some of it community living, is different than having your own home. And the job itself requires flexibility. "We've done a variety of things," says Bill. "Office work in business and development offices. We've painted for nine months at Heifer. We've given Global Village tours. You have to be willing to leave your comforts of home, what you had, and do something a little different."
Mary says they have received many gifts from volunteering - friends, lots of emails, and doses of enthusiasm. "We try to lift staff morale because we are energetic and positive people," she says.
The couple meets each new assignment with anticipation. "We've discovered the great networking group out in the world of volunteers," says Mary. "It's so fun to hear about a new assignment from our friends of all faiths."
The Ruths call themselves "retired but refired" and find that the lifestyle of a volunteer suits them quite well. "We like being in a program like Partners in Service," says Mary. "We've met independent volunteers, and that's fine. In our experience, we are so glad to have an organization behind us."