Nicolaas de Ruijg served on Community Housing Partnership’s Board of Directors from 2009-2015. Nico served as a tenant board member and was on the Membership Committee and Operations Committee. He was an active leader within Community Housing Partnership and participated in many volunteer, outreach, and fundraising events. In addition, Nico took the time to get to know other tenants and attended many program events and graduations to ensure tenant voices were heard by the Board of Directors. He believed it was important for board members to donate and actively promoted the idea within the Board that “we all have to do what we can to raise funds and awareness.”
The mission and work of Community Housing Partnership was very important to Nico because he himself went through a period of homelessness lasting two years. Nico said, “there is never enough housing and people do not realize how difficult it is to make the transition from homelessness.” During his period of homelessness, Nico was struggling with alcohol addiction and felt like he was wasting away. It wasn’t until a social worker planted the idea that he could have a career and make an impact with his life that he decided to get sober, find permanent housing, and help others struggling with homelessness.
After completing an Alcoholics Anonymous program, Nico dedicated himself to volunteering and working for organizations that help break the cycle of homelessness. He considered himself “the product of second and third chances” and believed all homeless people should be given the opportunities they need to become self-sufficient. His journey with Community Housing Partnership began when he volunteered as an usher for Community Housing Partnership’s annual “A Night with the Stars” talent show for tenants in supportive housing. According to Nico, he greatly enjoyed the experience and “found an atmosphere of caring and concern went hand in hand with [his] sobriety.”
Over the past decade, Nico worked with Community Housing Partnership in a variety of capacities and has seen the organization flourish and grow. He had been sober for an impressive fourteen years and made an impact by volunteering at his church, Community Housing Partnership, and other organizations. He looked forward to helping find new leaders in the community by recruiting tenants to Community Housing Partnership’s Board of Directors through the Membership Committee, and by assisting in teaching the CORE Leadership Course in social justice.
Nicolaas passed away in 2015 and will be remembered by the community for his leadership and kindness for a long time to come.