80-Year-Old Senior Leader, “Grandpa” To 18, Friend To All
- August 11, 2017
- Posted by: swebadmin
- Category: Community Corner
“Mr. Ruiz” began attending the Good Samaritan Community Services’ (GSCS) Senior Center in 2011, and at 80 years of age, quickly became an integral member of both the Senior Center and GSCS’ Child Development Services (CDS) Program. A talented, retired architect, he began leading art and woodworking classes in the Senior Center in the mornings. In the afternoons, he became “Grandpa” to the 18 children enrolled in the CDS preschool classroom, assisting with classroom and outdoor activities, meal service, nap time, and basic “housekeeping” tasks in the room.
He also served as the master of ceremonies/narrator for the inter-generational Las Posadas cultural event for the last two years. In August 2015, Mr. Ruiz, a United States permanent resident, decided he wanted to become a full United States citizen. He and his wife enrolled in GSCS’ Saturday citizenship classes, designed to help those going through the naturalization process. Students learn the key aspects of United States history to prepare for the citizenship interview. In March 2016, Mr. Ruiz and his wife stood together surrounded by their children, right hands raised, and spoke the Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America, officially becoming United States citizens, with all the rights and responsibilities that role entails.
Since enrolling in GSCS’ Senior Center, Mr. Ruiz has demonstrated significant gains in his perceived quality of life. He has been an inspiration for other clients. He has been a strong, positive male role model for the children in the CDS Program. He has dedicated nearly five years of service to GSCS, persevering despite a language barrier, through his own illnesses and health issues, caring for his wife during times of severe illness, and dealing with the loss of his siblings in Mexico.
Through all of the hardships he has faced, he never lost sight of his personal goals. Mr. Ruiz remains active in the community and has not stopped striving to achieve more. He is the embodiment of GSCS’ goal for senior clients–to reduce social isolation and to continue life-long learning.
Good Samaritan Community Services (GSCS) serves as a catalyst for change, supporting youth, individuals and families by providing excellent community services to overcome economic poverty. The United Way nonprofit partner provides comprehensive services to more than 5,000 individuals and 1,800 families in eight locations around South Texas.