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Repairs! Upgrades! Improvements!

A sharp gust of November wind swept across the south side of the Ruth M. Center where Ethan Mitchell, the Center’s maintenance man, worked in the late autumn sunlight. Electric power cords and a variety of tools marked the spot on the Center’s side porch where repairs and improvements were well under way. Today’s project: sanding away old, peeling paint to restore the entire porch.

Such repairs, upgrades, and general improvements are routine to the week by week operation of the Center where five buildings and extensive grounds keep Ethan always busy.


Safety, security, and savings are the over-arching goals of most recent projects. Maintaining the handicapped ramps, so essential at a personal care home with handicapped residents, has been an on-going project this fall. “Kurt Lyle and I are in the process of replacing rotted out wood,” explained Ethan. (Kurt is a member of the RMSC Board.) Kurt cuts the boards to size, and Ethan replaces the old with the new. Ethan has also stained the lengthy ramp into the residential mansion--a preventative measure against future rot. A new set of stairs on the northwest side of the mansion is the “icing on the cake” when it comes to recent outdoor improvements.

Both safety and savings are considerations in many routine maintenance activities. For example, conventional light bulbs are being replaced with LED light bulbs reducing not only energy costs but also the danger of a resident being burned by an extremely hot incandescent. Motion detector lights have been installed in areas not receiving regular foot traffic. These provide for energy use only when the light is needed while still providing security around a given building.

And, then, there is the task of painting, a never-ending task with five buildings. “I did a lot of painting especially over the summer months,” commented Ethan. The bathrooms in the gym received a new coat as did the upstairs in the residential mansion building. The basement stairwells for Buildings A and B were painted too.

Significant efforts are made to keep the Center in best repair for effective ministry. To that end, internet was installed in A Building to improve information exchange between buildings. This improvement also allows the building supervisor quick access to doctor offices and other services. A new freezer has been purchased to replace an old one that recently failed, and a new refrigerator is on its way for the Center’s Daycare program.


What’s next? Projects abound, of course, including the completion of the porch Ethan was restoring on a sunny November day. One of the more ambitious ones is the upgrading of Smith Center technology which will perhaps become a reality in the near future. Ethan, trained in computer technology, hopes he may put his knowledge to work even this coming winter.

Whatever comes next, the board, the staff, and the residents are thankful for donations and volunteers that make the Center a safe and secure place to live and a good place to learn.


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The purpose of the Ruth M. Smith Center, a National Mission Institution of the United Methodist Women, National Organization, is to minister to the social, educational, emotional, spiritual, and physical needs of dependent children, youth, adults, and families regardless of race, religion, or national origin.

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