HAGERSTOWN, Md. (WDVM) — The Salvation Army in Hagerstown, Maryland is saying goodbye to who many would call a celebrity in the community.
Ruth Williams can’t go anywhere without being recognized as she has served so many in Washington County through her work at The Salvation Army.
“I come from a corporate background so I never thought I would do anything like this, the soup kitchen type thing,” Ms. Ruth explained. “But the longer I did it, the more it worked and the longer I stayed. I think that was my purpose.”
Ms. Ruth was the only paid kitchen staff at The Salvation Army and is now retiring after 11 years at the Manna Kitchen.
Ms. Ruth explained that when she started, the Manna Kitchen would normally only serve about 40 people a day. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, she would feed anywhere from 200 to 300 people per day. As the weather grew colder, the number of patrons decreased but Ms. Ruth’s passion for providing love and a good meal did not.
Other workers and volunteers had nothing but kind words for Ms. Ruth and her impact on the community.
Captain Jimmy Taylor is the supervisor at The Salvation Army of Washington County. He praised Ms. Ruth for her hard work and dedication to service. He even recalls patrons who have come from all over the county, not just Hagerstown, to have one of Ms. Ruth’s meals.
“Ms. Ruth has been a staple. And that’s such a blessing to have somebody like that, that wants to make a true difference in the lives of people that many times are forgotten.”
Donna Cushwa has volunteered with Ms. Ruth and was teary-eyed when the thought of Ms. Ruth’s last day arose.
“She is totally amazing. She has given her heart and her soul… She has such a good heart. She loves these people.”
Ms. Ruth’s mother, Louise Williams, has worked alongside her daughter and couldn’t be more proud of the work that she has done in the community.
“It just amazes me when I go out to shop, someone’s always stopping her and they have known her,” Williams exclaimed, “And the people in town will say, ‘if you want a good meal, go to The Salvation Army.”
Over her 11 years, Ms. Ruth has served almost half of a million people, a feat not many have accomplished.
Sometimes they need a hug, more than a meal. Well, I’m gonna give them that hug. Put your mask on and put your gloves on and give them a hug,” Ms. Ruth stated with tears in her eyes. “Because they need it… Almost as much as they need something in their belly.”