House of Ruth

Volunteering with Heart at House of Ruth: Face Painters

There are many opportunities to volunteer at House of Ruth. The main way people support our work is through preparing and serving meals in our single women’s shelter on Capitol Hill. Another way people share is by teaching or offering their talents. In January alone, a hairdresser came in and styled several women’s hair, a self-defense class was taught, and — in perhaps our favorite event of the month — two professional face painters, Sarah Long and Lynn McWalters, came in and transformed Kidspace. 

As often is true, behind the heartwarming story is heartbreak. Sarah Long, one of the face painters, reached out because just before Christmas 2018, a well-known professional face painter was killed by her husband. In her own words, “one of the brightest lights in our professional community, Jocelyn Casdorph, was murdered by her husband in their home in Arizona. She’s been called the ‘mother of all face painters’ because she was an excellent and prolific teacher, the originator of a tremendous number of the designs regularly painted by pro face painters, and just a wonderful person who gave so much to our craft.”

Face painters around the world decided to organize local efforts to honor her, and contacted House of Ruth. We were touched by the story and their willingness to volunteer, and scheduled a time. The magic happened from there. As Tara Villanueva, Kidspace Director, said, “The children enjoyed the paint, and were transformed with beauty. Even better, though, was their willingness to paint the teachers’ faces. All the teachers became so excited, and the kids’ excitement built off the adults’, and by the end of the day we were all in a bright, happy, and warm spirit. It was an enormous gift to have them share their skills with us that day.” 

The event was held on what would have been Ms. Casdorph’s birthday. As Ms. Long said afterwards, “This was a wonderful way to honor our mentor. We were very impressed by the wonderful staff and how much love and joy they bring to their jobs. It truly was our pleasure.”

We thank all volunteers who share their skills and talents with House of Ruth — if you’d like to volunteer, please contact Elizabeth Kiker at ekiker@houseofruth.org.