Volunteerism: The Invaluable Gift of Time
Ruth Krause Has Donated Over $100,000 in Volunteer Hours to Kent State
It’s a rare gift to be able to do what you love every day and get paid for it. It’s a whole other category of love to do it for free. Ruth Krause has been doing just that for 15 years at the Kent State University Museum – most recently as the manager of the museum store.
Outgoing, energetic and with a passion for costumes and fashion history instilled in her by her seamstress grandmother, Ruth doesn’t think she’s done anything extraordinary by volunteering for so long. “So many of my friends say, ‘Ruth, why are you doing all this work without being compensated?’, she says. “I just tell them that I found my niche. This is my place. There’s nowhere else I’d rather be.”
Circling back to Rockwell Hall
Ruth’s legacy at Kent State started with a job in 1971 at the Registrar’s Office, which, at the time, was located in Rockwell Hall. She worked there for 21 years and walked back and forth to work since she lived so close to campus. Oddly, she kept running into a man who was walking his dog almost every day as she was walking home. That man was Sidney Krause, Emeritus Professor of American Literature, and the man she would marry in 1992.
“I left the university after I was married so that I could travel and do things with my husband. But I couldn’t stay away, and thought it might be fun to volunteer at the museum – it was something I always wanted to do,” she says. What started out as a one-day-a-week stint as a greeter grew into a tour guide position, then in 2007 she was asked to take over as manager of the museum store, after the student who was doing the job graduated. It’s a full-time position that Ruth handles in just three days a week.
The director of the museum, Jean Druesedow, knows how important Ruth’s role is in the success of the museum store. “Ruth works so creatively and diligently to make the store appealing to students and visitors, and profitable for the museum. She’s mentored her student staff and worked hard to relate the merchandise available in the store to the exhibitions in the galleries. Her selection of jewelry from local artists is a distinctive addition as well.”
Merchandising and Mentoring
There are many facets to Ruth’s job as manager. “I so enjoy spending someone else’s money!,” she says. “I do all of the buying, work with the vendors, take consignments, display all the merchandise. And I love the students I work with. That’s one of the reasons I continue doing this – that’s what really keeps me going. The students keep me young!”
One former student, Heather Haden, worked with Ruth in the museum store during all four years of her undergraduate education in fashion design. Says Heather, “Many fashion design students, like myself, have benefitted from Ruth's leadership. She’s always eager to accept input from students in the buying, display and inventory stages. What’s most exceptional about Ruth is her passion. From the technical to the glamorous, Ruth tackles all aspects of her job with style and grace.” Heather adds, “Ruth and I have grown very close since we first met in 2006, and she’s family to me. She calls me her ‘Kent daughter,’ and I call her my ‘Kent mom.’ She and her husband are very near and dear to my heart.”
In addition to her students, Ruth’s favorite part of her job is ordering merchandise and keeping the displays fresh. Everything has to be fashion related – clothing, jewelry, scarves, tote bags, handbags, books on fashion history, designers, exhibitions, even greeting cards and decorative arts pieces. “The store contributes financially to the bottom line of the museum and the College of the Arts, says Ruth. “It’s a wonderful way for us to interact with the community, and for the community to appreciate who we are and what we do.”
Shawn Gordon, Senior Director of Advancement for the College of the Arts, is one of Ruth’s biggest fans. “Ruth is an incredible role model for people of all generations. People underestimate the power of volunteerism. It’s tremendous to think about all the years she’s served this university – first as an employee and the last 15 years as a volunteer – it’s really remarkable.”
Memories and Recognition
There have been many memorable moments during Ruth’s time at the museum, but none more so than the opening of the Katherine Hepburn exhibit, which coincided with the museum’s 25th anniversary. “In all the years I worked there it was the most popular exhibit ever. Busloads of people came to see it every day,” she says. “They held a big gala with a red carpet. Robert Osborne from Turner Classic Movies was there along with actress Ann Rutherford (who played the youngest sister in Gone With the Wind) – it was like a movie premiere. So exciting!”
To honor all her years of service, Ruth received the President’s Medallion, the highest award given by the university. She was floored. “I thought I was just coming to our annual volunteer’s brunch. Then I saw the dean and the director and I wondered what they were doing at a volunteer event. I was completely surprised and honored.”
“Ruth Krause has been an exemplary member of the Kent State Museum community for many years,” says John Crawford, dean of the College of the Arts. “She is truly the face of the museum and always has a warm smile and positive demeanor. We are so appreciative of everything she has contributed to the museum’s success.”
As for Ruth’s plans for the future, she says she feels like she’s just getting started. “I don’t really want to retire. There have been times when I had a bad day, but I got over it!”
Each and every gift to Kent State University has an impact, no matter the size. Together, we can impact lives: our own, and others. To find out more, please visit www.GiveToKent.org."