At 90 years young, Ruth Taube has reached legendary status as a mentor and teacher for nearly fifty years at the social service agency Henry Street Settlement in New York.

Ruth, who is the Director of Henry Street’s Home Planning Workshop, teaches neighborhood residents how to sew, crochet and knit, and also operates a thrift shop there, with proceeds going to Henry Street.

Having learned to sew as a young child, Ruth became so proficient that she used to copy the clothes in the department stores, since she couldn’t afford to buy them. When her husband died of injuries he received in World War II, she was pressed to find work in order to support their young daughter.

“If you try to help yourself, you’ll be on ‘easy street,’ but if you sit back and wait for the world to help you, you’ll get nowhere.”

Ruth took a job as a sewing teacher at Henry Street, where she has been imparting her wisdom and skills to generations of women and men from the neighborhood ever since.

ruth-taube-henry_street_classHaving spent the last half a century helping others, Ruth’s contributions clearly go well beyond her sewing skills. At a recent event celebrating Ruth’s milestone birthday she said, “My life is here. It’s my home away from home and these people are my friends and I’m their friend and it isn’t just sewing and knitting and crochet, it’s the way people get together here and the way they feel for one another.”

At 90, this dynamo has no plans to stop working. In addition to her job at Henry Street, Ruth is also a regular volunteer for the Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy.

We’ve said it before and we will say it again… you don’t need to move mountains to make a difference. Thanks to Ruth for the bounty of inspiration.