by AMY LEHRER | photos by Soul of Photography

Advocates Volunteering

Local philanthropist Ruth Westreich recently attended a Words Alive scholarship ceremony at Central Library. She began supporting Words Alive through her foundation fifteen years ago when Leslye Lyons, a well-known book group leader who believed developing a love of reading would ensure lifelong learning, formed it. This year’s scholarship recipients participated in adolescent book groups within the juvenile justice system.

These at-risk teens attend schools like Monarch School, San Pasqual Academy, Lindsey Summit, Choice Summit, or Toussant Academy due to neglect, homelessness, or parent incarceration. Words Alive program participants receive a mentor who remains with them through trade school or college. To date – with mentor and volunteer help – the Westreich Foundation under Words Alive has improved the lives of forty-seven at-risk youth. As a predominantly volunteer organization, Words Alive is always accepting volunteers, and their next fundraiser on Nov. 13 will feature keynote speaker Anna Quindlen. Those wishing to volunteer or support/attend the fundraiser should sign up at

Ruth Westreich expressed, “I fervently wish all children who want to turn their lives around could earn a scholarship from Words Alive because they know how to make success happen for these kids.” Additionally, she requested, “Join me in helping the needy escape the cycle of poverty and violence. You will never sleep so well as the night you realize you have improved a person’s life forever.”


In other ways, Ruth also aids the community. Eleven years ago, she helped launch the USD Institute for Nonprofit Education and Leadership, which has an exceptional master’s program, doctoral program, and applied research center. Although USD allows tuition discounts, Ruth routinely raises scholarship money to help leaders afford the rigorous programs. Ruth is also the co-board chair of UC San Diego’s Center for Integrative Medicine, a board member of the Samueli Institute, a UCLA Arts and Healing advisor, a grantor for Cal State San Marcos Institute for Palliative Medicine, and a supporter of Alzheimer’s programs.

Ruth and her husband, Stanley, have lived in Fairbanks Ranch for fifteen years, and they value its safety, amenities, and numerous trails. Between them, they have seven children and fifteen grandchildren. Naturally creative, Ruth became an artist, photographer, jewelry designer, and metal smith. She also tends her organic vegetable garden and 250 roses.




Group: The Westreich Foundation
Mission: The Westreich Foundation is an initiative-based foundation committed to furthering health and wellness and putting the patient at the center of quality medical care, be it integrated, natural, palliative, or allopathic.
Phone: 858-735-0811

Name: Ruth Westreich
Coomunity: Fairbanks Ranch
Volunteer Affiliation: The Westreich Foundation
Occupation: Artist/philanthropist/nonprofit strategist
Family: Husband – Stanley; seven kids, fifteen grandchildren
Hobbies: Walking, playing with grandkids, painting, photography, writing (second book almost done), skiing in the winter, making jewelry, and gardening