Someone to Know
Ruby Lee Douglas
“Fixing things is what we did to survive,” remembers Ruby Lee Douglas. “As the 6th of 16 kids, I helped my Mom in the kitchen and garden, and my Dad with the outdoor projects. We grew the vegetables we ate. We fixed the furniture when it broke. And we even made our own table and couch.”
Ruby Lee now puts that life experience to work as archi-treasures summer project supervisor at Barbara Jean Wright Courts, a mixed income housing community located at 1354 S. Morgan. She first caught the archi-treasures bug five years ago when she saw a flyer posted at BJ Wright looking for someone to teach a group of 18 kids how to garden and build things. She immediately called Joyce Fernandes at archi-treasues for an interview. Ruby remembers thinking to herself, “How amazing that there is a JOB like this—one that’s so natural for me!”
Ruby’s eleven years as project supervisor have been diverse. The projects have ranged from planting and maintaining a centrally located community garden to making picnic tables and benches for residents.
The first day of the summer program is her day to establish respect. “Once the kids decide they want to be here, then the real work gets done,” she says. “Kids are kids, and you have to get them on the right page.” She should know – she’s raised seven kids on her own, and with a big grin on her face, she casually mentions she also has 27 grandkids.
Ruby’s approach to teaching is grassroots: “I teach by example, by doing!” On any given day you may see her showing kids how to properly mix concrete and safely operate power tools.
When asked if she had a favorite project, Ruby was quick to respond with, “I like them all…I even get my grandkids involved when they stay with me on the weekends.”
Ruby feels it’s a blessing that archi-treasures has been a part of life at BJ Wright and that it’s easy to see the real improvements made for all the residents there. And archi-treasures is fortunate to have Ruby Lee Douglas!