Alice, daughter of itinerant farm workers, and George, a polio victim confined to a wheel chair, originally started their non-denominational personal ministry of taking in poor, discarded and handicapped children in Lawrence, KS. "Mama" Ruff, a trained nurse, discovered there was no place for abused and abandoned children, so she obtained a license to take care of six children. In addition to raising their six children, Alice and George have adopted more than 100 others and given shelter, food and love to thousands more children and adults over the past 40 years.
In 1969, when the Ruffs moved to Texas to be closer to one of their daughters and to be in warmer climate, they expanded their ministry to adults. Located on the outskirts of Dallas, the Ruff "estate" is a compound of nine connected buildings that house between 70-80 guests at any one time.
Resisting any government aid, Mama Ruff relies on charity for food, to pay utility bills which usually run around $2,700 per month, and to maintain the premises. The guests themselves do much of the work. Others who can get jobs will contribute some of their earnings or food stamps to help.
Ruff House Ministries, Inc., thanks to a devoted attorney, is an incorporated non-denominational organization for tax purposes. For people on their last straw, it is the last stop that catches them, rekindles their self-worth and the will to live to hope and to love.
Particularly striking are the "forgotten ones", the severely handicapped whose relatives have died or abandoned them. The love of Ruff House, of Alice and George and their natural and adopted children, is described as probably the best things that could happen to such kids. From family indifference, they are delivered to the communal sharing, acceptance and genuine love that are the essence of Ruff House.
As to the day-to-day running of the place, the rules are simple: no drinking, no drugs and no fraternizing.
After 40 years, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, in her 70th year of this life, Mama Ruff, despite some physical ailments, city building inspectors, financial strife and a fire, remains optimistic about what she is doing and knows that she is making a difference every day.