Nancy Bevli was the keynote speaker Thursday night at the annual dinner for the Ruth Haven transitional home for women. Some former residents of the home shared their stories about how the program helped them turn around their lives. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie/kritchie@madisoncourier.com)
Nancy Bevli was the keynote speaker Thursday night at the annual dinner for the Ruth Haven transitional home for women. Some former residents of the home shared their stories about how the program helped them turn around their lives. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie/kritchie@madisoncourier.com)
Nancy Bevli gave the keynote speech at the annual dinner for the Ruth Haven transitional home for women Thursday.

Her message was a personal one.

She shared with the audience of about 70 Ruth Haven supporters, board members and clients about the hardships she and her family had after her son was released from prison and was unable to find an adequate facility to make the transition from prison life to life in the outside world.

"From my experiences with my son, I saw first-hand how important the Ruth Haven house is for these women and their families," Bevli said. "A facility like this would have meant a world of difference to my son."

The Ruth Haven house is a program of Jefferson County Transitional Services. It houses up to nine women at a time and currently has a waiting list for clients to move in.

Residents go to recovery programs, get counseling, do volunteer service projects and attend in-house meetings. Referrals for the facility come from the courts, hospitals, treatment facilities, jails and prisons and self-referrals.

Two of the attendees at the dinner, Leah Gridley and Elizabeth Wolfbrandt, are graduates of the program and are doing well since leaving at Ruth Haven.

"Life changes have been good," Gridley said before the dinner began. "I now have a real life ahead of me, and I've begun to be able to rebuild my life with my children."

Wolfbrandt said that moving on from Ruth Haven has been smoother than expected. "While I was at Ruth Haven, I was able to learn to live life on life's terms and I was given tools to succeed. Now, I go back and volunteer. That gives me a chance to give back and it gives me a clear reminder of where I was and how far I've come."

Funding for Ruth Haven comes from residents, who pay rent, as well as donations from businesses, charities and individuals. The funding comes in at about 75 percent from the residents and 25 percent from other sources.

Those interested in helping the Ruth Haven home with donations of money or time, as well as those who need more information about being a resident can call 274-2907.

The meeting was held at Harry's Stone Grill.