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Practically Paradise
Inside Practically Paradise

My family

Let me take a moment to share about my parents. They may not have anything materially (healthcare, income, savings, food) but they have so much to give of themselves.  Recently my mother was one of the volunteers who helped raise $50,000 for the Siouxland Sleep-Out in Sioux City, Iowa. Here’s part of her story in the article:

One memorable story was that of Sue Ritts of Washta, Iowa, who was determined to experience homelessness despite no prior experience. She brought a very small thin-walled box for shelter and became unbearably cold. Two residents of Henry Muller Hall, with many years of actual homeless experience, recognized her problem and set her up in the third base dugout with an abandoned refrigerator box and extra covers they had brought.

Mom insisted I understand that they didn’t get the article totally accurage – she was bearing the cold even though it was terrible with 50 mph winds and her friends didn’t give her extra covers. The Henry Muller Hall residents were wonderful and took good care of her because they INSISTED she allow them to help. My mom didn’t like the article because she thought it made her sound too wimpy. Okay, world, my mom is no wimp and anyone can read the entire article to see what bitter temps were occurring. This was the weekend when South Dakota had that nasty snowfall, also. 

When my mother informed us she was going to sleep outside in a cardboard box to help raise awareness of homelessness and mental health issues, my family was hysterical. We were convinced she was going to freeze to death. My mother is not healthy despite all her protests. Stubborn & determined? Yes! Healthy? No! She refused to listen to us because she had sponsors who had donated money and she was determined to tough it out.

Several years ago she was in a car accident that broke vertebrate in her neck. She had surgery to replace some vertebrate nearly 2 years later when they found the reason behind her headaches, but it wasn’t totally successful and she suffers every single day from debilitating migraines. The insurance company for the "other guy" did not cover all the surgery so she stopped receiving treatment and determined to suffer through. My parents are part of America that does not receive health coverage, but they are tough hard-working people who keep going.

My mother’s boss suddenly closed her bookstore 2 years ago leaving my mom without a job. My mother had cashed in all her retirement money to pay medical debts. When my father sold his gas station in Washta and retired, instead of using all the money to build his garage in the yard so he could continue to work, they paid off more medical and credit card bills. My father continues to pursue his dream of building the garage bit by bit. 

Mom and dad continue to take care of the local church as the janitors. My mom works part-time in a gas station in the next community, but my father must drive her to work daily because she cannot raise her arms high enough long enough for these trips. My mom is also treasurer for the UMW’s northwest territory and is taking classes on lay ministry.

My father isn’t the healthiest person in the world either, but he continues to work and give. Recently mom and dad took my nephew Andrew and niece Miranda along with members of their church to serve 1200 people Thanksgiving dinner at the Sioux City, IA, Goodwill. KTIV NewsChannel 4 has some video footage. My dad and Andrew show up serving right away in the clip.  If my brother Dan and I lived closer, I’m sure we’d be involved in all the charity activities, also.

Mom and my brother Randy worked on Thanksgiving Day, so my parents will host a big family get together Sunday for Randy’s family, my cousins Denise, Dawn, and Deena, and their children/grandchildren. I just talked to mom before she heads off to work. She was logging on to facebook to see how many people will brave the predicted snow storm tomorrow to gather and eat. She mentioned not wanting to have to look at 15 pounds of peeled potatoes if snow strikes and no one makes it through.  

Mom, if everyone was as tough as you and dad, the world would be a better place. I wish I had a magic wand and could grant you both health care, plenty of food, and an easier life. 

Readers, if you’d like to contact my folks, my mom is on facebook or you can email Sue Ritts. You’ll notice I wrote on her facebook wall and suggested she get involved in organizing an Angel Food program for northwestern Iowa in her spare time. I’m sure she has an extra five minutes one day a month to add to her plate. By the way, Dad, did you know she has volunteered you both to help with the Goodwill shoe ministry this month? 

The world needs more people like Sue and Alyn Ritts. Love you!


  1. “My Aunt Sue and Uncle Al are the the most incredible people. My cousins are
    awesome and everyone who knows these people are blessed by there presence to
    tell you the truth. They are hardworking and ethical. These are loving kind
    caring people and don’t ever let anyone tell you that home grown Iowa people
    aren’t the best ever.”

    (I received this on facebook and decided to repost here)

  2. “thanks, Diane…that is an inspiring story. I can see where you get your

    (reposted from Facebook)

  3. Computers & Tech says:

    Hi there,
    Great blog, I just stumbled upon it and I’m already a fan.