Mrs. Brutt calls her work therapyBy Kim Curry
Herald Staff Writer
Ruth Brutt has spent past Buhl Days directing the Meals-on-Wheels program out of Christ Lutheran Church in Sharon _ her job and ``therapy'' for the past 25 years.
This year, however, she'll be waving at the crowds as a 1997 Buhl Day nominee.
``You can wave to me,'' she recently quipped to a Meals-on-Wheel volunteer in the basement of the Buhl Boulevard church in Sharon.
But, she admits, she'd much rather watch the parade than ride in a convertible.
``Since I get some money for my efforts,'' she said, ``I didn't want to take it (the nomination). They said they knew this but knew I gave extra time.''
After volunteers put the hot meals and cold lunches together, and the 12 route drivers begin to arrive, Mrs. Brutt can take a breather.
``They're very good about accommodating us,'' she said.
She has an assistant on Mondays and Tuesdays and plenty of help from the workers, not all of whom belong to the church.
``As you can see, the volunteers know what to do.''
``She's wonderful,'' one of the longtime helpers, Ruth Schell, said between the banter.
``Ruth is a worker and a problem solver!'' exclaimed a Buhl Day nomination committee summary of Mrs. Brutt's accomplishments. ``People and clients know they can call upon and depend on Ruth to help them with any problem they have. She is literally on call 24 hours a day.
Originally from Brookville, Pa., Mrs. Brutt moved to the Shenango Valley in 1952 with a degree to teach kindergarten. She taught for seven years at the former Wengler Elementary School in Sharon and has also taught Sunday school at her church.
She joined Christ Lutheran after marrying member Fred Brutt in 1957. Years later, when she belonged to the social ministry committee, she heard a young couple speak about Meals-on-Wheels.
``We decided it was something the valley needed,'' Mrs. Brutt said. ``I guess I'm a caring person. The project appealed to me.''
When Meals-on-Wheels began here in 1970 with a handful of clients, there were five daily supervisors instead of a director. Mrs. Brutt, who had been Friday supervisor, was chosen to direct the program after 21/2 years, when the client list grew to 75.
Now the program, overseen by an ecumenical board of directors, daily serves about 200 clients in the Shenango Valley and across the Ohio border.
Clients pay a nominal fee for the meals and churches, clubs and businesses donate food, money and extras for holidays.
``It's really been a Godsend,'' she said, noting that her husband, a retired Westinghouse engineer, has Alzheimer's.
When she's not caring for him or working, she reads, walks in nearby Buhl Farm park and sews her own clothes, something she taught herself to do as a new teacher when she shared a Sharon apartment with her sister.
``I have met lovely people I never would have known,'' Mrs. Brutt said. ``Without the volunteers, and God, this program would not fly at all.''