Michigan Parents Answer "House of Ruth," When Asked "Who Will Take Care of Them When You Are Gone?"

Friday, March 05, 2004

Perhaps the greatest worry for a parent with a developmentally disabled child is concern for care of their child when they no longer are around. Thanks to a group of Charlotte, Michigan parents who reached out to many benefactors in Eaton County, that question now has an answer: House of Ruth.

[Photo: A group of young men and parents meeting at House of Ruth]
From left to right: David Walsh, Matt Gager, Sean McClure, Kyle Bellows, Michael Malerba, Mike Poyier and Matt's mother, Jo.
Charlotte's House of Ruth, now home to Matt, Mike, David, Michael, Kyle and Sean, was named for Ruth Rypstra, a school social worker. It was during a meeting of parents with developmentally disabled children she posed her question that has prompted so many to act.

Mark and Terry Dennis stepped forward and donated the property on which the House of Ruth now sits. The Dennis' generosity soon snowballed as the Eaton Intermediate School District, Charlotte churches and businesses came on-board.

HUD became involved by awarding a Section 811 grant, which provide support housing to people with disabilities.

Charlotte Cabinets donated cabinets for the house. The Charlotte General Federation of Women's clubs provided household items. The Rotary Club, Optimists and Lions Club gave substantial donations along with Eaton Federal Savings and Loan, which donated a dining table and chairs. A group from General Motors Corp. built a pole barn for storage using donated materials.

Though Matt, Mike, David, Michael, Kyle and Sean now live on their own, their parents remain closely involved. Twice a year the parents conduct a clean-up. Each spring they plant flowers. In December, the dads string decorations outside while the moms decorate the inside. And every summer, all venture to Lake Michigan for an overnight stay in a parent's cottage.

The generosity of others has not been lost on the young men. Every other Saturday, they dispose of used household items at a local recycling center. For more than two years they've watered flowers at two downtown sites, and in response to the September 11 terrorist attacks, they sold during breaks from their jobs at Peckham Industries cookies they had baked and donated the proceeds to a Charlotte Fire Department fund for New York City firefighters and their families.

Content Archived: September 09, 2009