Sister Beth Marie Ruder, DC, ministers in East St. Louis, Illinois at the John de Shields Public Housing after-school site. Pictured here giving cooking lessons, Sister Beth Marie is the Local Community Superior at the Daughters of Charity Province of St. Louise’s Marian Residence in Belleville, Illinois. She has served in East St. Louis since 2010. The John de Shields Public Housing after-school program is one of five after school programs that are a part of the Griffin Center in East St. Louis.
Griffin Center programs for children began in June 1986 and were founded by another Daughter of Charity, Sister Julia Huiskamp. Observing the lack of opportunities available to the residents of East. St. Louis public housing, she approached the Housing Authority with a request to use a boarded up, dilapidated community building at the Villa Griffin development. With the help of volunteers the building was made habitable and the “Griffin Center” became a reality. Since its founding, thousands of low income children have participated in the after school and summer programs of the Center, all free of charge. Many firms, foundations and individuals support the social, emotional and educational growth of the children who participate in Griffin Center programs through donations that have helped to expand services from one housing project to the seven now served.
In the years since its inception, the Sisters serving at the Griffin Center have noted an increasing number of their children graduating from high school and even attending college. They and the Griffin Center staff and volunteers work hard at supporting the children’s academic achievement through tutoring and computer programs, provision of back to school clothing and book bags, attendance checks, special reading programs and general academic support.
Story submitted by the Daughters of Charity – Province of St. Louise. Happy National Catholic Sisters Week to Sister Beth Marie Ruder!