On January 15, we celebrated our co-founder Ruth Ives’ Birthday! Sadly, Ruth died 9 years ago from a brain tumor, but by continuing to celebrate her birthday, we are able to keep her joyous spirit very much alive within the Boat Shop community and beyond.
We started our day at the breakfast table with reading a bit about Ruth’s life, sharing stories, copies of her incredible handwritten letters with her swooping j’s and y’s, and enjoying a number of beautiful photos of Ruth throughout her life. We then read together Ruth’s own description of how the Community Housing Improvement Project (CHIP), the non-profit that she founded back in 1985, came to be. You can read it here.
After breakfast, the baking of Ruth’s immortal blueberry muffins began. We made at least 3 batches and delivered them to an apprentice-generated list of our neighbors and local service providers from the Transfer Station to the Post Office. Each delivery of muffins came with a note that reminded the recipients of the infinite number of times that Ruth would bake muffins and bring them with her when she visited neighbors and on all of her errands around town. For sure, Ruth’s blueberry muffins are famous here on the Pemaquid Peninsula.
Now, when Ruth would celebrate her birthday when she was alive, she would present the Boat Shop community with a list – written on a scroll of paper that would reach from the ceiling to the floor! – of chores and tasks that she would love to have done to help make the Boat Shop a bit homier and more hospitable. She would have us fix chair rungs, build shelves for the kitchen, clean behind refrigerators, make curtains, you name it! And so, we, too, carry on this tradition and the apprentices and staff spent a good part of the rest of their days doing those same types of chores. It was fun all working together!
The final and perhaps the most important portion of our birthday celebration for Ruth was the writing of letters. As you may know, Ruth loved to write letters. Some days she would write 20 or more. She especially liked to write thank you letters, and thus, in the late afternoon, we all sat down and took the time to write a letter of gratitude to a teacher or mentor in our lives lifting up the ways in which they had positively affected our lives.
Ruth Ives positively affected so many people’s lives. She will be forever remembered for all the ways in which she was constantly reaching out a helping hand or offering an encouraging word to those around her.
So, Ruth, we wish you a happy birthday and a huge heart-felt THANK YOU!