Friday, May 17, 2013

Volunteerism is Ruth Richter's Passion

Ruth Richter and Peggy Ashton-Parker, the star performers in this
 story, present a check for $1,000 to GV Fire Chief, Jon Delvalle.
Granny's Closet happily provides clothing, furniture, and household
items for anyone who cannot afford them.

  Visitors to Garden Valley inevitably discover Granny’s Closet, the little shop of gently-used merchandise in the corner of the Garden Valley Senior Center. Spearheaded by a small powerhouse named Ruth Richter and run by an all-volunteer staff, Granny’s has become an icon of community co-oping. The amount of quality donations received far exceeds what would be expected, or even hoped for, in a community this small, and the shop has become a weekly must-do for shoppers who live or visit here.

A check for $500 to Golden Eagle Radio 97.5 brings smiles to
Babe Boomer and Steamer Bill Harder, proof that Granny's Closet
 makes everyone feel good.
   When Ruth and Ron arrived in Garden Valley in 2004, they asked themselves how they were going to meet people. There was no church of their denomination. “We didn’t want to be just retired,” says Ruth. “I had been a volunteer my whole adult life. We didn’t call it that—it was church functions or cooking meals for the school. When we were working at the Seoul Foreign School in Korea, I was a counselor in charge of making sure the students did community service.
This is not a part of the wealthy European culture—certainly not in high school. That’s when I got to thinking volunteerism should be a part of everyone’s life.”

  In Garden Valley, the Richters went to library board meetings, and Ron was instrumental in starting the PTA at the school. Ruth says, “We know about PTAs—massive yard-sale fundraisers.”

GV Library Director, Kathy Smith, welcomes the $500 check
 from the Senior Center. 50% of Granny's sales goes back to the
Senior Center, to maintain its facility and for operating expenses.

  Finally, they found the Senior Center, where both were voted to the board of directors. When the coordinator for the center admired something Ruth was wearing and commented they ought to start a thrift shop, Ruth concurred, but the board shot down the proposal, with concern for “bad smells”.

Ruth hands a $5,000 chcck to longtime Crouch Volunteer Ambulance
EMTs, Donnie Adams and Mike Butler. All involved with Granny's
 agree there is still value in used and discarded items. With a llittle
love and repair, Granny's returns them to their original value,
ensuring proper care for the environment.

 Not one to discard a good idea, Ruth tackled new board members the next year and won them over. Thus, in the late spring of 2007, eight women sat in Ruth’s living room, surrounded by boxes of clothing, while a very willing Ron lumbered back and forth from the basement with more boxes.
  The most important decisions made at that time were about pricing. Granny’s Closet is a marvel of unbelievably low prices. “I had no idea what kind of success we’d have,” Ruth admits. “I had never run a business in my life. I figured we’d get enough to have a little operation—in my wildest dreams, I thought maybe $500 a month, some day.”

Mary Wilson, mad organizer and president of the GV Center
for the Arts, accepts a $500 check from Ruth and Peggy.
Granny's is 100% non-profit, supporting the
community first.
 Ruth is convinced that when you do a donation project like this, you need to share with the community: “If it doesn’t help the community, I don’t want to be involved.” The Senior Center has struggled, and Granny’s has been instrumental in keeping it open—but they still give thousands back into Garden Valley. The seniors’ board recently voted to split Granny’s income 50-50, between the Center which relies on the income, and the community.
  “As far as I’m concerned,” says Ruth, “even when my back and legs and shoulders are aching, there’s a win in my mind—nobody’s a loser. The whole nature of the thrift shop should be to try to help those who can’t go to Macy’s and don’t want hand-outs.”
  For her final advice, she adds: “For anybody to be involved in volunteering, one has to have the passion for it. You must really want to do it. Find something you can feel that way about.”
  Ruth Richter says without reserve, “Granny’s is my passion!”


  1. Kudos to Ruth and those like her. I always see Ruth working on something to benefit others. And Granny's Closet is a real asset to the community both for the donaters and the buyers - I am BOTH! Ha. Thank you Ruth.

  2. I will no longer be donating to Granny's Closet since Ruth has decided that the proceeds will primarily go to other area organizations instead of the Senior Center. GC was supposed to be a fund raiser for the SC and now Ruth has turned it into something else. The SC could keep their meals program going with the GC funds, but Ruth wants to give those funds away and the meals program is disappering. Shameful!

  3. What is really shameful is that some people don't know what they are talking about but make judgments according to rumors spread by---whom?--an old fart or two who sat on the seniors board who refused to help raise funds and sat on their butts saying they were tired of volunteering the two times a year they had fundraisers but wanted Ruth to carry them and the Center, working her butt off every single day, mostly alone. I was there from the first day and the plan was not to be a fundraiser ONLY for the center. Ruth has now agreed to give 50% of Granny's to the center (in my opinion too much, considering that the board members, other than Ron Richter, can't be bothered to raise money or help Ruth) and she has spent thousands on the center--in fact, they would not have been open for at least the last two years had it not been for Ruth--she has carried the brunt of the place for years. Shame on you for whining about meals disappearing--when was the last time you worked all day long, every day, every week for Granny's or the center? If you would sign your name instead of being a chicken, we could check and see how much support you have given the center. You haven't a clue about what really went wrong with the meals as is witnessed by your comment. Ignorance is bliss? Maybe, but it also causes cruel, misguided, delusory statements to be made against a kindhearted woman who has singlehandedly inspired a community to donate to, volunteer for and patronize a recyling effort that has changed the face of the town. Shameful indeed, but it's not Mrs. Richter who should be blushing.

  4. Got a link to this thread and I have to say I'm really surprised, Suzanne ("Angel"), that you & Ruth as relative "newbies" in the community have tried to hijack what so many other long time residents have tried to grow with the senior center. Yep, shame on both of you!

  5. You are absolutely right, "Lizzy". Ruth should go back from whence she came and leave Granny's to the seniors' board to run--or better yet, close it down, since Ruth is the shameful newbie who started it and made it successful--god forbid--and has kept the center open and supports it as we speak--yes, she hijacked the center. What a joke, what a waste that has been, shameful newbies. You are right, "Lizzo", I should get the heck out and leave it alone. It is very apparent that the senior center was doing so well until we came well, they couldn't get people to support it. Where are they who are so adept at running a successful senior center? Ruth, get the heck out and let them take over!!!