Monday, July 29, 2002

Award-winning volunteer has hugs for all

Ruth Tedrow dedicated to senior citizens

By Janet C. Wetzel
Enquirer contributor

        MIDDLETOWN - Ruth Tedrow stopped in at the area senior citizen's center one day in 1988 to visit, eat lunch and learn more about activities that might interest her. They put her to work.

        Seeing the need for help in the gift shop, the Middletown woman agreed to volunteer for a few hours. Fourteen years later, she's still in that gift shop.

        Oh, she hasn't been there all that time. But she has become a fixture, volunteering there several hours every week, helping people find a special card or gift, ordering greeting cards, stocking the shelves and taking care of business.

        Ms. Tedrow, a dedicated member of the Middletown Area Senior Citizens who is frequently working to promote it, does not limit her help to the gift shop, said Keri Booth, activities director and volunteer manager. She willingly volunteers her time whenever and wherever she's needed. She attends the center's advisory board meetings, and helps out with various events at the center, Ms. Booth said.

        In June, the 79-year-old retired factory worker was given the annual Middletown Area Senior Citizens Center Volunteer of the Year award.

        “It was well-deserved. Ruth's very dedicated,” Ms. Booth said. “You can always depend on her to be here, often coming in even when she's not scheduled to help out. She's dependable, and has seniority over all of us staffers.”

        One of about 50 “wonderful” center volunteers, Ms. Tedrow, who has two grown daughters and a total of seven grand-and great-grandchildren, is known as the funny one, Ms. Booth said.

        “She keeps us all smiling. And she always has a hug and a smile for you,” Ms. Booth said. “Ruth is always very positive, very rarely negative even when she's ill or has problems.”

        Ms. Tedrow has also been active in the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) for 12 years, and serves on the local board. For years she taught Sunday school at First Christian Church and is now a member of Breiel Boulevard First Church of God.

        She said volunteering is a dual gift. It allows her to help others and makes her feel good, as well.

        “I like to meet people. I like to cheer them up, make them smile,” Ms. Tedrow said. “People come into the gift shop and browse and buy things. I have one little lady that is 93. She looks forward to a hug every week. When I was off four weeks (in the spring of this year after a medical problem) ... people missed me and I missed them. They need hugs and so do I. The center helps all of us.”

        Do you know a Hometown Hero ... someone in your community dedicated to making it a better place to live and helping others? E-mail Janet Wetzel at or fax to 513-755-4150.


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