Today, tomorrow and every day, the door of the House of Ruth, a crisis shelter for battered women, is open to that woman with her children who has finally said, "I will no longer be abused."
Immediate, free help is available to her by calling the shelter's Hotline 889-RUTH or TTY: 889-0047. The shelter is open 24 hours every day.
The House of Ruth can house 24 women and children, but if space is not available for a caller in crisis, the staff or the volunteers will find her another space.
Some 65 active volunteers and a staff of 45 help abused women of any age, race, ethnic or religious background, who are beaten and threatened or emotionally and psychologically abused by partners, whether they are married or not.
At the shelter, in a homelike setting, the abused will get help with legal representation, housing and employment referrals and available community resources along with group and individual counseling. The average stay is 21 days.
To insure the safety of the abused, staff and volunteers follow up and maintain contact after the women are back on their own.
The House of Ruth was founded by a coalition of women's organizations in 1977. It has become one of Maryland's most comprehensive domestic violence programs which, along with support for the abused, also has a program for the abuser.
Violent and abusive partners of battered women are accepted in the House of Ruth Batterers' Program on both a voluntary and a court-ordered basis for 22 weeks of study aimed at helping them change the values and beliefs that support violent behavior.
Volunteer Louise T. Goldman, 70, has volunteered to the House of Ruth since 1979. ''My friend Toby Mendeloff, one of the founders, told me about it. Battered women were just beginning to get help then,'' she says.
Before that, for 10 years, beginning in 1965, Goldman had volunteered to ''Marion Pines' pilot program of Job Corps and was the only volunteer. When I began to volunteer to the House of Ruth it was because I felt that if women don't identify with women, who will,'' says Goldman, a native Baltimorean who attended Park School and Goucher College.
When she and her husband, Robert M. Goldman, married 35 years ago, he had two children and she had three from previous marriages.
''We had custody of the children and raising them helped play a role in my choice of volunteer work. They were children of the 60s at a time of protest of the Vietnam War and for civil rights, and I became more and more aware of injustices. That's what triggered me to make a volunteer contribution to battered women,'' she says.
At the shelter, Goldman has served with the staff, with the residents, manned the hotline and worked on fund-raising projects. Her reward, she says, are many and include making long-lasting friendships, particularly with co-workers and volunteers Marion Decker and Louise Armstrong.
The first House of Ruth shelter was in a small rowhouse on Calvert Street, which served fewer than 100 women annually. Today, 600 women are sheltered each year and 5,000 crisis calls are handled.
Carole Alexander is director of the House of Ruth. Funds are received from state, city, United Way and from private donations. Gifts of money and personal items are welcome throughout the year.
To volunteer at the House of Ruth, call Leslie B. Ford, public relations and volunteer coordinator, at 889-0840.