House of Ruth

Our founder Veronica Maz

Veronica Maz was a remarkable woman who dedicated her life to helping marginalized and vulnerable populations in Washington, D.C. She was a sociology professor at Georgetown University, but her transformative journey began in 1970 when she took some of her students to visit D.C.’s “Skid Row.” Witnessing the dire conditions firsthand, Maz was deeply moved and felt compelled to take action. She left academia and started working on the streets of D.C., becoming an advocate for those facing houselessness, hunger, and abuse.

One of Maz’s significant accomplishments was her instrumental role in founding several vital social services agencies. In collaboration with others, she helped create the House of Ruth in 1976, a shelter for women who have suffered abuse and or houselessness. At its inception, the House of Ruth provided a haven for eight unhoused women in the basement of a row house. This was a groundbreaking initiative, as very few shelters were dedicated to serving women and their children in the District at that time.

In addition to House of Ruth, Veronica Maz helped found two other impactful social services agencies: Martha’s Table and So Others Might Eat (SOME). Alongside Father Horace B. McKenna, she opened Martha’s Table more than four decades ago, starting with just $93. Over the years, Martha’s Table expanded its reach, operating at multiple locations and providing educational, health and wellness, and family resources. Similarly, SOME became a renowned soup kitchen and provider of essential services for those in need.

Veronica Maz’s dedication and tireless efforts earned her the admiration and respect of many. Washington Post columnist George F. Will described her as a “hyperkinetic fireplug.” When she passed away in June 2014 at the age of 89, she was widely regarded as a shining light in D.C., having touched the lives of countless individuals by providing them with shelter, food, and a sense of hope. Maz’s legacy lives on through the organizations she helped establish. Her vision and determination continue to inspire others to work tirelessly for social justice, reminding us all of the profound impact one person can make in transforming the lives of those in need.