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Clinton connection

Brooksby resident volunteered at the White House for seven years

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July 7th, 2015
Brooksby resident with Hillary Clinton
Brooksby resident with Hillary Clinton

When Hillary Clinton launched her 2016 Presidential campaign, one Brooksby Village resident watched with particular interest.

Ruth Kravtin was a White House volunteer for seven years during Bill Clinton’s administration. She moved from Columbus, Ga., to Chevy Chase, Md., after her husband Maurice passed away.

“My oldest daughter Michelle was an attorney in D.C., so I moved to be closer to her,” says Ruth. “Michelle knew I needed something to do, so she suggested I volunteer at the White House.”

Ruth passed the FBI’s background check and reported to the White House Office of Presidential Correspondence, where she worked alongside 30 to 35 other volunteers.

“We answered phones and responded to mail,” says Ruth. “When someone was celebrating a birthday, a marriage, or any other monumental occasion, they could contact our office, and we’d send them a card on behalf of the President and First Lady.”

A grand adventure

Ruth, who was in her early sixties at the time, was delighted with this new adventure.

“For someone who’d been a housewife and didn’t know anything else, it gave me such a thrill to work at the White House,” she says. “I felt like I’d just stepped out of Cosmopolitan magazine.”

Ruth purchased a condo in Maryland, one block outside D.C., and rode the metro to the White House three days a week.

“I married when I was 19 and went straight from my parents’ house to the house I shared with my husband, so this was a big adventure for me,” says Ruth. “I’m glad I seized the opportunity and didn’t shy away from it. I have so many memories from my time in Washington.”

During Ruth’s tenure at the White House, she encountered the Clintons on a number of occasions.

“Bill and Hillary would stop by the correspondence office and visit with the volunteers,” says Ruth. “Leon Panetta, Clinton’s chief of staff, would give us briefings. Senators and congressman would drop in to tell us about certain bills. Roger, the President’s brother, came by as well as the President’s dog and handler. I met such a range of people. It was very exciting.”

Attention to detail

Ruth says Hillary Clinton’s ability to remember details is impressive.

“Hillary asked us about our families and our interests,” says Ruth. “Then on her next visit, she would follow up on the previous conversation.”

Ruth also volunteered to help at the White House on special occasions, including the annual Easter Egg Roll and the White House Christmas celebration.

“The White House florist asked for volunteers to help make Christmas decorations, and I remember rolling balls in gold glitter,” says Ruth. “The holiday celebrations provided some of my favorite White House memories. Once the decorations were up, I volunteered to take the public on tours, telling them about the Christmas trees in each room. I loved that part of my job.”

Ruth’s volunteer service at the White House drew to a close after Bill Clinton’s two terms. She stayed in Maryland until her daughter Michelle moved to Boston.

“Once Michelle moved, I had two daughters living in Boston and one in Chicago,” says Ruth. “I decided to look at retirement communities in both cities.”

But Ruth’s search never took her to Chicago. A friend recommended

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