Sunday, November 15, 2009

Dolly Rugg

A real life saint died this weekend. Dolly Rugg, a dear lady in her late 80's, was a member of my church, Asbury First United Methodist. I first met Dolly about ten years ago. I had been asked to Chair the Asbury Storehouse, an outreach group that gives clothing and household items to those in need. At that time, I knew Dolly only by reputation and I knew if I wanted to learn about the Storehouse, she was the one to see. I walked into the Storehouse that day. There was Dolly, all by herself, working at sorting clothes and getting them out on the racks and shelves.

"Hi! I'm Sherry Bennett and I'm the new Storehouse Chair. Mind if I look around?" Dolly immediately dropped what she was doing and began showing me every nook and cranny of the Storehouse. I could sense the pride she had in that place. It was as if she was showing me her own cherished home. Dolly and three other women founded the Storehouse back in 1965 when it was nothing more than a large closet in another building on the church grounds. It has grown to its current state of serving over 5000 individuals a year who are in need. These are battered women, families whose home has been destroyed by fire, those who have lost their income, and others. She worked tirelessly until a few years ago when health problems prevented her from coming in.

She explained to me the four women who started the Storehouse wanted a place that was cheerful and where those who came would be served with dignity and respect.

During the three years I served as Chair, I developed a great deal of admiration for Dolly. Her Irish stubborness showed its true colors more than a few times. I started a Wednesday night session at the Storehouse. This allowed us to tap into more volunteers and serve those who had day jobs. I didn't want Dolly to be a part of the Wednesday night shift because I didn't think she should be driving late at night. But that didn't stop Dolly. One really brutal winter night, as we closed up shop after 9:00 pm, the driving conditions were just nasty. There was a heavy wet blinding snow whipping around. "Dolly, I will drive you home and bring you back tomorrow to pick up your car."

"Sherry, I am perfectly capable of driving myself home!" she let me know in that strong, independent tone of hers.

I realized this was one argument I was not going to win. "Okay, then I will follow you to make sure you get home safely."

As the years went by, Dolly became frail and her memory wasn't what it used to be. I think the last time I saw her was in church one Sunday morning about two years ago. She was sitting in the pew but didn't seem aware of her surroundings. I waved and smiled at her but I am not sure she knew who I was. How sad.

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