Volunteer Spotlight: Ruth Richers
Director of Tutoring,Youth at Heart
Ruth Richers with David Boren, president of the University of Oklahoma, left, and Anil Gollahalli, president of the Oklahoma Foundation of Excellence, at Oklahoma Mentor Day on Jan. 8 at the Oklahoma State Capitol.
Travis Caperton/Oklahoma State Capitol
In 2007, Ruth Richers had just moved to Tulsa from Houston, Texas, and wanted to start serving in her church, Christ United Methodist.
She approached fellow congregant Mavis Jarvis, who led a tutoring program — now called Youth at Heart — for Tulsa children in low-income housing. Jarvis encouraged Richers to get involved in YAH tutoring at the church.
“I told her I was not a teacher,” Richers says. “She told me I only had to have a heart to help these students learn and know that someone cared about them.”
Richers says that is what kept her coming back — because the children needed love and wanted to learn.
When Jarvis retired, she suggested Richers help facilitate the program with another tutor, and in 2008 Richers became director of tutoring, a volunteer position.
Working with partner groups, Youth at Heart reaches more than 1,000 youth annually and has served more than 40,000 since it began as an eight-week summer program in 1976.
Youth at Heart’s mission: Providing opportunities that develop character, instill values and equip youth for success.
Was this your first opportunity in volunteer service? I have volunteered for several other organizations in the past, but Youth at Heart is the one program that has meant the most to me. I have gotten more love from the children than you can believe.
Since you began sharing your personal time at YAH, have you noticed more Tulsans volunteering for area nonprofits? Yes, I have noticed more and more people are making themselves available to volunteer for more programs. We can see the difference our time makes when we try to show others someone cares about them and their needs.