#BENEVOLENT
Ruth Costello

August 25, 2017

Written by Miles Ramsay | Photos by Alysa Ramsay

CHARACTER TRAIT: Benevolent

DEFINITION: benevolent: Shows kindness and is generous in providing aid to others.

Shivering and wet, a young South American girl in a pale yellow dress enters the home of the American missionaries that have taken up temporary residence in her town. Their 9-year-old daughter, on her own accord, offers the cold girl a coat to warm up— and not just any coat. It’s a brand new, red, white hooded, wool coat the daughter begged her parents to buy her for Christmas. Even though it’s precious to her, at the end of the evening, the missionaries’ daughter insists the little girl keep her coat.

Fast forward in time … A recently divorced mother of three is angry with life and angry with God. Out of spite, and a little out of curiosity, she travels to South America to see if the missionary work her departed father spent his life on actually made any difference. She wonders if the churches he planted still exist.

She arrives and finds those buildings very much intact. She meets a man who remembers her and invites her to his home for lunch. At lunch, as the man introduces the guest to his wife, she begins to cry and runs out of the room. She returns quickly, dragging a large round-top trunk behind her. She opens it and pulls out a coat. After many years of use, the once red coat has faded to an almost pink hue.

Ruth Costello’s eyes fill with tears as she recalls the story of her little red coat.

“It was something that changed my life right away. It’s a story of realizing that your nothing becomes something.”

Ruth uses this example from her own life as a reminder to all donors supporting her non-profit organization, Grace House.

“You never know the joy you’re giving. You never know what could happen from your donation.”

From its humble beginnings out of the trunk of Ruth’s car, Grace House now serves St. Joseph by providing kitchen ware, clothes, shoes, blankets, baby items, toiletries, Bibles, and prayers to 800 less fortunate members of our community every month all for no charge. In addition, Grace House serves 1,100 kids at back-to-school time.

When Ruth moved from California to St. Joseph years ago, she saw a need in this community and felt compelled to do something about it. Her ministry, which has culminated into the building at 27th and Lafayette, hosts several events throughout the year including a canned food drive, a coat and jacket drive, shoe drive, and a winter blanket collection.

Ruth has enough stories about people she has helped to fill a library. Every story has the same ending, which happens to be the Grace House motto, “all for a smile.” Ruth says to give of yourself to others, to put their needs above your own, is to truly love.

“When you love somebody that’s out of your element, that’s when it’s loving like God loves. I think we just need to love more and care more.”

Ruth’s benevolent spirit and charismatic demeanor echo the words of the Book of Matthew.

“Freely he have received. Freely give.” – Matthew 10:8

#HARMONIOUS

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#ECLECTIC

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#POWERFUL

More than a decade of service later, the program continues to grow. Most of the kids who live in this St. Joseph neighborhood receive free or reduced priced breakfast and lunch during the school year, but have limited food resources in the summer. 

#DELECTABLE

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#SPIRITED

Built in the 1850s, the riverfront warehouse property and its sister warehouse property at 101 Francis were purchased by Pastor Doyle and his congregation at Restoration Church in 2012.