In The Spotlight
Gail Rittenhouse helps change lives of women and children , By Paula Wolf, Staff Writer firstname.lastname@example.org
As someone who's spent her entire career in the nonprofit world, Gail Rittenhouse seems a perfect fit to lead Milagro House as it celebrates its 15th anniversary.
Operating since 1998, Milagro House provides education, housing and counseling for women and children experiencing homelessness. It owns properties on West Chestnut and South Christian streets, which allow for housing 21 families at any one time.
"What sets Milagro House apart is the focus on education," Rittenhouse said. "All women living there must be pursuing their education so as to gain the skills necessary to move from dependency to self-sufficiency for themselves and their children."
Milagro House has an on-site GED school and a post-secondary program, she said, and additionally provides intensive case management and on-site counseling.
Family: Fiance Dean Baker, son Collin, 17, a senior at Manheim Township High School, and daughter Alexandra, 15, a freshman at Lancaster Catholic High School.
Hometown: Lancaster. Yes, I am a native!
Current residence: Manheim Township.
Education: J.P. McCaskey High School; B.S. from State University of New York at Oneonta; M.Ed. from Millersville University.
What I do as Milagro House executive director: My responsibilities are the overall management of the organization -- overseeing the daily operations; fiscal management; development initiatives including all grant writing and donor development; and community interactions.
Goals I have in my job: To continue outreach in our community and share about the life-changing work that we do, and plan for the future of the organization.
What I enjoy most about my work: The incredible diversity of every day! I can go from writing a grant, to working with one of our ladies, to giving a tour and top it all off with a speaking engagement to a community group! The many hats I wear always make it interesting, exciting and most rewarding.
But I truly think that the MOST gratifying part is celebrating the successes of our women. They work so very hard when they are with us, and joining with them as they achieve their goals is absolutely priceless! We are not giving a "hand out," but rather giving them a "hand up" by providing them with the opportunity to pursue their education. We are empowering them to break those cycles of poverty and dependency.
The most challenging part: Milagro House does not accept any government funding so that we can remain pure to our mission and provide the highest quality of service delivery. Therefore, one of my major responsibilities is to secure donations to meet our annual budgetary needs. This certainly is challenging given the current economic climate.
Growing up, I wanted to be: A nurse.
Something I'd like to do eventually: When I am retired from full-time work, I would love to consult with nonprofits to help them develop successful fiscal practices as well as strong development models. These are the key factors in moving a struggling nonprofit into a thriving one.
Websites I frequent: I love to read reviews about travel locations from Trip Advisor and look for recipes from food websites.
A magazine I read: Shape and Fitness.
The music I have on my iPod or MP3 player: A very wide variety, from classical sacred music by Bach and Handel to Mozart operas to 1980s hair bands like Motley Crue, Aerosmith and Poison.
Must-see TV? I watch almost no TV other than the news before I go to work. But if I am home I do like to watch "The Voice."
My culinary specialty: Making bread from scratch.
Something that can always be found in my refrigerator: Greek yogurt, and flavored half-and-half for my coffee.
Favorite vacation spot: Anyplace where there is sun and water. I spent a week last summer boating on the Chesapeake Bay, which was fantastic!
The best book I've read lately: Does reading the manual for my iPad mini count?
The best movie I've seen recently: "Les Miserables."
The best advice anyone ever gave me: Sometimes you just need to go for it!n