“I felt more confident because I could recall better.”

Ruth, 52
Foster Care Specialist

Ruth is one of those people the world could use a lot more of. She has made a life out of trying to find good homes for the most vulnerable among us, which is of course the children who are without parents or, all too often, without hope.

“I work with kids who are in the foster care system,” this 52-year-old social worker explains. “Kids who’re either in a traditional foster home or what we call kinship, which is like family settings and we try to help keep the placement stable and running as smoothly as possible.”

“I started in the child welfare system in 2001, and then I didn’t have a degree and I had started going to school and I worked my way up and got my degree and became a caseworker,” she adds. “I’ve been doing this for nearly 20 years now, and I do feel a great deal of pride in what I do.”

Now living and working in the Pennsylvania town of York with her fiancé, Ruth grew up in nearby Lancaster, and shares a spellbinding story of how and why she chose to work in the frequently sad, often stressful and sometimes rewarding world of foster care.

“When I was younger I worked for an animal care organization and what we did was we helped any kind of animals that were in distress or injured or just strays,” as Ruth tells her story. “I remember one case when I went into a house that was, you know, not in good shape with the toilet overflowing and things like that. I was there for the animal but I just remember seeing these little dirty children and, you know, it’s like these children and these animals were in the same situation. And I knew at that point that’s the way I wanted to go, to help helpless kids.

She’s learned a lot about the child welfare system over her two decades in the profession, and she’s learned a lot about herself as well, especially as she’s moved into her middle years. “I’ve been reading a lot about aging too and, you know, I’m in that time of life when most women go through what you call a change of life,” she says with only a faint chuckle that underlines she isn’t kidding.

Also with aging, “I noticed a little decline in my ability to remember things. It was getting more and more difficult to recall things at times. I saw some advertisements for Prevagen and in January of 2020 I just felt like I wanted to start trying something and so I started taking it. I noticed that I felt more confident because I could recall better. I just felt more confident,” Ruth says.

She is guided by a clear vision of herself in the always challenging world of child welfare. “It is so important to treat people with respect and honesty, the way I want to be treated,” she says. “Working in child welfare, I’ve always been able to form good relationships with people because I don’t think that I’m better than them. I could be in that situation with just one wrong choice. I can really relate to people and their struggles and I don’t think that people can pull themselves up by their bootstraps without a little help.”