An article yesterday incorrectly reported the employer of DeLois Ruffing. She works at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Northwest Washington. The article also incorrectly stated the number of houses repaired by Christmas in April, a volunteer group of which Ruffing is a member. The group repairs several dozen houses each year, Ruffing said.
A Northwest woman named in President Reagan's radio speech on volunteerism yesterday joined in praising the volunteers who helped save the home she operates for the impoverished elderly.
DeLois Ruffing said that in 1983 she was in danger of losing the home, The Community Residential Facility, after city building inspectors cited the house, at 1108 Monroe St. NW, for a number of violations.
As the president described it, the house "badly needed repairs -- the ceiling was virtually falling down around her."
Ruffing recalled that she did not have the $6,000 it would have taken to correct the problems with the electrical and plumbing systems or to give the building a long overdue painting.
A nursing assistant, Ruffin, 51, said she received only $14 a day in government care payments for each of the five elderly and poor people at her home -- not nearly enough to feed and clothe them and undertake repairs.
"I was about to lose everything because I couldn't pass inspection and I couldn't get repairmen," she said. Then an organization called Christmas in April, which she has since joined, came to her rescue.
On the last Saturday in April in 1983, she said, 15 volunteers from Christmas in April went to the house and capped their repair work on the ceiling and electrical and plumbing systems with a paint job.
"It was like a godsend thing because I really needed the help," she said.
The president described the day's activities: "With her permission . . . more than a dozen volunteers -- attorneys, journalists, housewives, even a judge -- arrived to do what was needed. Ten hours later, the plumbing and ceiling had been fixed and the walls were gleaming."
Ruffing, who now works at Arlington Hospital to help finance the house operations, said Christmas in April volunteers review 75 or more houses a year in need of their handiwork and chose one to be repaired the last Saturday of every April.
"It was fabulous that the president took time to talk about the great work we're doing," she said. "I didn't have any idea he was that concerned about Christmas in April. It was just fantastic, like a shadow from heaven."