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Ruth Lohrer

Ruth Lohrer is a woman of faith, passion, and a long history of good works. She’s funny, down-to-earth and kind.

Church has always been first and foremost in her life.

“At first, I didn’t have much of a choice.” Lohrer said, laughing. “My mother brought me to Sunday school before I could talk. My grandfather was the organist in a little Baptist Church in Staten Island where I grew up. He met my grandmother in the choir—that’s how far back it goes.”

Lohrer and her husband,  Dick, moved to Darien, Connecticut, a relatively small community on Connecticut's "Gold Coast," between Norwalk and Stamford in 1967.

After Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination in 1968, Lohrer was impressed with how her Darien minister held their congregation accountable. The minister asked what had they done, or not done, to contribute to such isolation and hatred?

After meeting several times and acknowledging they needed to be part of a solution, they formed a group called Person to Person. Lohrer was a founding board member of the organization she said "just grew like a flower."

She began a life of volunteerism by driving a van for Person to Person that looked like a bread truck, she said.

"I’d throw my two-year-old son in the car seat and deliver cribs and emergency food to people who lived in the projects in Stamford," said Lohrer.

"I had faith that nothing bad would happen when I went there with my son, and he thought driving around in a bread truck was the greatest thing.”

The Lohrers moved to Palos Verdes Estates in 1974 and she became involved with “church-related things” at St. Peter’s By the Sea. Before long, she was the chair of the Mission Committee.

“When I was a teenager,” she said with a big grin, “my mother was on her church’s mission committee, and I swore I would never do that, but I mean, what can I say? My mother was my role model. She was fantastic.”

Lohrer said she has always been involved in ecumenical activities—with groups of churches.

She joined the South Coast Ecumenical Council, headquartered in Long Beach and became active in the Peninsula Harbor Ecumenical Cluster. In 1975, the group started an all-volunteer organization called FISH (an emergency food and advocacy center). FISH distributed staple food from its pantry as well as clothing and furniture.

“I’ve worked with a lot of volunchurcheers,” Lohrer said emphatically, “but I’ve never worked with a group like the one in FISH. They didn’t want meetings, they didn’t want celebrations, they just did their jobs. There was no proselytizing; we were not trying to convert anybody—we just wanted to help those in need. We were witnessing to our faith.”

As the homeless problem in San Pedro grew in the 1980s, Lohrer said FISH received frantic calls from families. There were women with children who couldn’t pay their rent desperate to find a place to live. Harbor Interfaith Shelter began in 1983 to address the problem. And in 1987, the organization merged with FISH to become Harbor Interfaith Services. Their mission was to empower the homeless and working poor to achieve self-sufficiency by providing support services including shelter, transitional housing, food, job placement, advocacy, childcare, education, and life-skills training.

In the late 90’s, Lohrer became involved with the San Pedro Enterprise Community.

The organization was a coalition of religious and community groups who partnered with the Volunteers of America of Los Angeles to secure the abandoned Navy Enlisted Housing Stock in San Pedro for the "graduates" of local homeless programs.

“Many in the community opposed the effort, some churches wouldn’t even let us meet there, but we saved several units of Navy Housing on Palos Verdes Drive North,” said Lohrer, proudly. “And we received a generous amount of money when the property on North Gaffey Street was sold to a private developer. We used these funds to refurbish the apartments and to expand our outreach.”

Though Lohrer’s passion for helping others has never wavered, she's physically no longer able to help as much.

Lohrer, a polio survivor who led a full, active life, is now confined to a wheelchair. She has a condition known as post-polio syndrome, which affects some polio survivors years after they’ve recovered from their first infection.

In spite of her disability, Lohrer continues to be involved with the South Coast Interfaith Council.

“I think we need to work on brotherhood, community awareness and understanding,” she said. “It’s amazing that the council has members of every faith addressing problems like the recent massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand. The council is trying to solve the problem with respect, not tolerance—much more than tolerance—appreciation and understanding.  It is absolutely remarkable; I think interfaith organizations are going to be the answer."

Lohrer’s greatest reward from all of her years of volunteer work has been the people.

“The people who care enough to get involved with social justice,” she said, “are the people I want to hang around with. They’re just wonderful.”

Ruth Lohrer is a woman of faith, passion, and a long history of good works. She’s funny, down-to-earth and kind.

Church has always been first and foremost in her life.

“At first, I didn’t have much of a choice.” Lohrer said, laughing. “My mother brought me to Sunday school before I could talk. My grandfather was the organist in a little Baptist Church in Staten Island where I grew up. He met my grandmother in the choir—that’s how far back it goes.”

Lohrer and her husband,  Dick, moved to Darien, Connecticut, a relatively small community on Connecticut's "Gold Coast," between Norwalk and Stamford in 1967.

After Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination in 1968, Lohrer was impressed with how her Stamford minister held their congregation accountable. The minister asked what had they done, or not done, to contribute to such isolation and hatred?

After meeting several times and acknowledging they needed to be part of a solution, they formed a group called Person to Person. Lohrer was a founding board member of the organization she said "just grew like a flower."

She began a life of volunteerism by driving a van for Person to Person that looked like a bread truck, she said.

"I’d throw my two-year-old son in the car seat and deliver cribs and emergency food to people who lived in the projects in Stamford," said Lohrer.

"I had faith that nothing bad would happen when I went there with my son, and he thought driving around in a bread truck was the greatest thing.”

The Lohrers moved to Palos Verdes Estates in 1974 and she became involved with “church-related things” at St. Peter’s By the Sea. Before long, she was the chair of the Mission Committee.

“When I was a teenager,” she said with a big grin, “my mother was on her church’s mission committee, and I swore I would never do that, but I mean, what can I say? My mother was my role model. She was fantastic.”

Lohrer said she has always been involved in ecumenical activities—with groups of churches.

She joined the South Coast Ecumenical Council, headquartered in Long Beach and became active in the Peninsula Harbor Ecumenical Cluster. In 1975, the group started an all-volunteer organization called FISH (an emergency food and advocacy center). FISH distributed staple food from its pantry as well as clothing and furniture.

“I’ve worked with a lot of volunteers,” Lohrer said emphatically, “but I’ve never worked with a group like the one in FISH. They didn’t want meetings, they didn’t want celebrations, they just did their jobs. There was no proselytizing; we were not trying to convert anybody—we just wanted to help those in need. We were witnessing to our faith.”

As the homeless problem in San Pedro grew in the 1980s, Lohrer said FISH received frantic calls from families. There were women with children who couldn’t pay their rent desperate to find a place to live. Harbor Interfaith Shelter began in 1983 to address the problem. And in 1987, the organization merged with FISH to become Harbor Interfaith Services. Their mission was to empower the homeless and working poor to achieve self-sufficiency by providing support services including shelter, transitional housing, food, job placement, advocacy, childcare, education, and life-skills training.

In the late 90’s, Lohrer became involved with the San Pedro Enterprise Community.

The organization was a coalition of religious and community groups who partnered with the Volunteers of America of Los Angeles to secure the abandoned Navy Enlisted Housing Stock in San Pedro for the "graduates" of local homeless programs.

“Many in the community opposed the effort, some churches wouldn’t even let us meet there, but we saved several units of Navy Housing on Palos Verdes Drive North,” said Lohrer, proudly. “And we received a generous amount of money when the property on North Gaffey Street was sold to a private developer. We used these funds to refurbish the apartments and to expand our outreach.”

Though Lohrer’s passion for helping others has never wavered, she's physically no longer able to help as much.

Lohrer, confined A polio survivor who led a full active life, she is now confined to a wheelchair because of post-polio syndrome, a condition that affects some polio survivors years after they’ve recovered from their first infection.

In spite of her disability, Lohrer continues to be involved with the South Coast Interfaith Council.

“I think we need to work on brotherhood, community awareness and understanding,” she said. “It’s amazing that the council has members of every faith addressing problems like the recent massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand. The council is trying to solve the problem with respect, not tolerance—much more than tolerance—appreciation and understanding.  It is absolutely remarkable; I think interfaith organizations are going to be the answer."

Lohrer’s greatest reward from all of her years of volunteer work has been the people.

“The people who care enough to get involved with social justice,” she said, “are the people I want to hang around with. They’re just wonderful.”

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