TROY — To say Ruth Groff is a busy lady could be an understatement, but to say she has a zestful commitment for what she does would be just right.
Groff is a hairdresser and co-founder of Shear Magic Hair Salon on Staunton Road, where she has worked for 35 years. Originally she began as a wig maker, and said that her longtime friend Shirley Suiter commented that she had a talent for doing hair and encouraged her to become a hairdresser.
Groff describes herself as being religious and decided to turn to her faith, praying about taking on the new opportunity.
“I thought, ‘If Jesus washed the feet of his Disciples, then I am called to wash the heads of the people and to turn it into a ministry rather than a job,” she said. “I find that knowing I can be there for people in the good times and the bad times — people all have different problems and I like to take the time, if I can, to pray with them off to the side at the shop.”
Groff is also very active at St. Patrick’s Church. She has taught Continuing Catholic Development classes and the Eucharist to second-graders for 37 or 38 years; has been on parish consul for three different segments of times; served St. Patrick’s School; given haircuts at St. Patrick’s soup kitchen for before the soup kitchen moved into the new building; worked as a mentor mother at the Elizabeth Center to of the girls who was pregnant and uncertain about the future with the baby, which even being present for the child’s birth; and helped with Lunch ‘n Raffle at St. Patrick’s.
She also styles hair for the deceased at Baird Funeral Home.
“Basically I love my church and all people,” she said. “It doesn’t matter who they are. I just have a need to serve people. My husband says I don’t know the word no, but I like to help out wherever I can.”
While she has been faithful her entire life, Groff said the loss of her parents at a young age — she was 12 when her father passed away and 17 when her mother passed on — shook but also deepened her faith.
“People would come through and say different things, and I knew that they meant well, but there was only one thing someone said to me that made sense,” she said. “It was my history teacher, and he said to me ‘Ruth, God has taken your father, now He’s taking your mother, but there is one thing He will not take away from you and that’s your faith, and now you have to use it.’”
As her parents raised her in a religious home, she decided to marry and raise her own children in a Christian home.
“I wanted them to know who God was, and I was so thankful that even though I lost my parents at an early age, God has replaced them with my precious family,” she said.
Throughout her life Groff has prayed and firmly believed that she would not be brought to anything she could not handle.
The second challenge came when she learned she had cancer. She was at St. Patrick’s, where a friend of hers commented “that frog was forever relying on God.” Groff said she had to excuse herself, picked up her rosary and took a walk.
“It was fairly dark and I could see something on the road,” she said. “As I was walking along I saw a blob of something and it appeared to be a frog right after my diagnosis. I picked it up in my tear-stained Kleenex and I looked up to the sky and said, ‘Thank you God, I will forever rely on You.’”
She had kept the frog for seven weeks until its health declined and her veterinarian suggested she take it back to its former environment. Before returning it, she kept pictures of the frog as a reminder of herself that God would help her.
During her diagnosis she decided to get involved with Cancer Companions, a Christian-based organization to help cancer patients and their families get help and not feel alone. Previously she had worked with the American Cancer Society selling daffodils for Daffodil Days, working at the office when it was located on South Market Street, and participated in the Look Good, Feel Better program.
With Cancer Companions, Groff organizes meetings and events to bring local doctors to discuss cancer and help patients learn what it is. Additionally, she and Suiter offer knitting classes and an afternoon of knitting at Lion and Lamb Yarn Boutique every second Wednesday of the month to make hats and lap shawls for cancer patients at Upper Valley Medical Center.
“God doesn’t send anything to us where there isn’t a blessing,” she said. “Sometimes prayers for things like cancer aren’t answered the way we want them to, but it’s the way God has planned for us. My favorite verse is Psalm 139, where God has seen the days of our lives, knows what will happen and will help us.”
Groff expressed her gratitude for getting to work with those in the community, especially her CCD students, and remarked how she has been fortunate to be able to give to her community, a commitment that she said came naturally to her.
”I’m grateful for God’s love, and I want to be able to bring that to other people,” she said.
Groff extended an invitation for anyone interested to come to the Cancer Companions sessions, which meet the second and fourth Thursdays of the month from 7-8:30 p.m. Sessions are held in the Parish Center, 444 E. Water St. upstairs in Room 3.
Reach Allison C. Gallagher at [email protected] or on Twitter @Troydailynews.