Woman on mission to help hungry in Detroit

DETROIT - In Sister Judie Ann Ruggirello's kitchen, there's much to be done.

There's sandwiches to be made and bananas, crackers, napkins and water bottles to organize. All of it is put neatly into brown lunch bags with hand-written notes of love and encouragement.

Ruggirello, who is with the Sisters of Christian Love, works a night job to earn enough money to pay for and assemble 200 lunches that will go to Detroit's homeless.

She's up by 4 a.m. to deliver the meals in her minivan.

"God sent me here. I didn't choose this place," Ruggirello told Local 4.

A self-proclaimed country girl, Ruggirello moved to Detroit after seeing a poor mother and daughter eating out of a dumpster near Eastern Market.

"I mean, they would take strawberries out of the dumpster and brush the mold off and eat it. I just said, ‘Lord, there has to be something,'" Ruggirello said.

She came up with the idea to pack lunches and rounded up some friends to help.

"You'd think I gave them gold. Sometimes, I ask them to pray for me, because I need prayer," Ruggirello said.

The people she meets on the street are a combination of mentally ill, addicts and families who have lost their income.

"I see many people that are like you and me. They had a place to live. First, they lose their vehicle, then they lose their house. Then, them and their children are on the streets," Ruggirello said.

 She's not political, but said she sees with her own eyes that something is failing.

"I firmly believe that they need to have more programs for people. We need to have more shelters. Over 3,000 people are turned away every day at a shelter in Detroit," she said.

Her solution? Create a central location where the homeless can get help – everything from shelter and food to medicine and counseling.

"So couldn't we have a place, a building, some place where we can give them hope?" she said. "They could get up in the morning and they have some place to go, something to do."

Ruggirello said oftentimes it's easy to jump to conclusions and be judgmental.

"Just be kind to these people and love them. We don't like to see them standing by I-75 asking for money or water, but give them a bottle of water, give them a wet washcloth," she said.

While some would say that giving the homeless a dollar or two could contribute to their drug or alcohol abuse, Ruggirello isn't concerned about that.

"What they do with the dollar is their choice. I'm here to love them, not to judge them.  And I think Jesus is there to love them not to judge them," she said.

Contact information:

Sisters of Christian Love

Sister Judie Ann Ruggirello




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