By Julie Muhlstein Herald Columnist
Verne Ruthruff is 64. He is a musician. He has driven a street sweeper. He once worked at a veterinary lab.
“I’m retired from everything,” the Everett man said. “It’s nice to be able to give back.”
He’s not sure what the future holds. For now, Ruthruff said he and his wife of 43 years have what they need. He thinks about people his age and older who don’t have what they need.
In a fledgling effort to make a difference, Ruthruff and others at Everett’s Vision Church are planning a free lunch for seniors. He wants the event, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, to be the start of a regular meal program at the church on E. Casino Road.
Ruthruff is director of the MOVE ministry, Men of Vision Evangelism, at Vision Church. He is also the church’s music minister. He hopes the church setting doesn’t scare away anyone in need of a meal.
“We don’t want them to think they have to have a cross hanging around their necks to come,” Ruthruff said Tuesday. Saturday’s lunch is aimed at older adults, but Ruthruff said no one will be turned away.
His group is made up of mostly older men. “We started reading about how many seniors are going hungry,” he said.
A U.S. Department of Agriculture report released in 2010 found that more than 14 percent of American households had experienced food insecurity the previous year. Citing that report, an August 2011 paper compiled by the AARP Foundation, “Food Insecurity Among Older Adults,” said that 8.8 million adults ages 50 and older — about 1 in 11 — were food insecure in 2009.
“From 2007 to 2009, food insecurity rose 63 percent for 40- to 49-year-olds, 37 percent for 50- to 59-year-olds, and 26 percent for those 60 and older,” said the AARP report. It said that Social Security was a safety net for the oldest group.
“There’s maybe something we can do to help,” Ruthruff said.
He didn’t attend church for much of his life. Now a songwriter and singer of Christian music, Ruthruff performed in bars around the area for decades.
His son-in-law and daughter, Donald and Romi Moody, are pastors of Vision Church. They also host a Christian hip-hop show, “Vision Beats,” at 11 p.m. Sundays on KSER (90.7 FM), Everett’s community radio station.
It was music that lured Ruthruff to church. “My wife Gloria, my grandkids, they all went to church but me,” he said. “My daughter knew how to get me. She said, ‘Dad, we need a little help with music, just this one night.’ “
That was about five years ago. Ruthruff has been with Vision Church ever since.
Volunteers have been accepting food donations at the church for the past few weeks. Ruthruff’s group is also working with Volunteers of America Western Washington, which he said has provided some supplies. “They’re wonderful,” Ruthruff said.
He has no idea how many people to expect at Saturday’s lunch. The menu will include soup, chicken over rice, corn, peaches, rolls and pastries. Church attendance fluctuates, he said, from about 50 to 100 people at services.
With Saturday’s event, the church group hopes to reach both people in need and possible volunteers and food donors. Vision Church has two kitchens, and large and small sanctuary areas.
At the start, the group plans a monthly meal. Ruthruff envisions being able to serve free hot lunches to seniors several times each week, and sending people home with bags of groceries.
“We’re expecting this to grow,” Ruthruff said.
“People see a church, they think religion,” he said. “What we’re interested in is feeding the hungry.”
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Free lunch for seniors
Everett’s Vision Church will offer a free lunch for seniors 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday. The church is at 206 E. Casino Road. The church’s MOVE (Men of Vision Evangelism) ministry plans to hold a lunch each month, with a goal of someday serving several meals per week. Food donations are welcome. For information, call Verne Ruthruff, 425-645-0201, or email: email@example.com.