Meet Ruth, one of our cherished residents. She’s a vibrant 70-year-old mother of five, grandmother of four and great-grandmother of two. So what brings this woman back to a midtown apartment for the third time? Ruth considers SAVE’s community campus her home. Health and family issues have necessitated some moves in the past, but Ruth and her cat Gabby have settled back in as part of our community.
When talking about her time away from SAVE, Inc., Ruth recalls telling her family, “I’ve gotta go back home!”
Having affordable, independent housing creates many opportunities for Ruth to enrich her own life. She no longer feels cut off and loves being back in the city where she is able to control her own schedule, get out of the house, be part of a community of positive people and continue in her advocacy and educational activities.
Ruth was diagnosed with HIV in 1995. Since that time she has seen many changes in health care, people’s attitudes and services available. Ruth affectionately talks about “the girls, ” a strong group of HIV+ women in Kansas City. Together they form an invaluable support system for each other. Giving back to the community is a priority for Ruth. “When I found out I was positive, I was on my own,” Ruth says. Now she provides peer support for others living with HIV. She looks forward to social events, educational presentations on new medications and the friendship she finds in this group of women.
Like so many people, Ruth’s housing was affected by her diagnosis. Complicating social factors and a quickly failing health meant that she had to move in with family members soon after she learned that she was infected with HIV. But living with others is stressful; worrying about your possessions and medications is tiring.
The opportunity to have her own housing has been a blessing in Ruth’s life, she says. What does housing mean for Ruth? “Peace and quiet, privacy, my own space … knowing my possessions are safe. Without SAVE I wouldn’t be as healthy as I am now. When I lay down at night, I just feel comfortable.”
For Ruth, home is where she feels safe. And she is relieved to be home again.