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Stafford couple honored for decades of volunteering, giving

Pat and Trudy Ritz receive award named after them from Youth Villages Oregon.

PHOTO COURTESY OF YOUTH VILLAGES - Pat Ritz accepts the Ritz Family Award at Youth Villages Oregon's annual gala last month.Pat and Trudy Ritz have contributed a lot over the years to children with disadvantages and mental and behavioral health issues — so much, in fact, that Youth Villages Oregon just named an award after them.

The Ritzes were presented Sept. 21 with the inaugural Ritz Family Award at Youth Villages Oregon's third annual A Day to Soar gala in Portland. The award recognizes them “for their many years of dedicated support.”

Pat Ritz said the couple's work with ChristieCare, a Lake Oswego-based provider of mental health treatment for children, began shortly after they moved to the area in 1979. His aunt Evelyn introduced his wife Trudy to the nonprofit group, and Trudy began volunteering there — eventually working on fundraisers like a thrift store, auctions and a charity ball.

Pat became a board member in the 1980s, and as president of the Christie Foundation, he played a role in the merger of ChristieCare and Youth Villages in 2011. (The Christie Campus in Lake Oswego ended residential services earlier this year amid a dispute with state agencies over its treatment of residents, but Youth Villages Oregon continues to provide in-home services.)

“I'm still very involved,” Pat Ritz said. “I'm on the (Youth Villages) national board in Memphis, but I work very closely with the people here. I'm kind of the board rep for Oregon.”

Andrew Grover, executive director of Youth Villages Oregon, called Pat and Trudy Ritz “some of the most dedicated supporters and volunteers any organization could wish for.”

“They have made it their lives' mission to help disadvantaged children dealing with serious emotional and behavioral issues, and they have embraced supporting their families and youth aging out of foster care,” Grover said. “We salute and thank them for their many years of service and their kindness and generosity that they have shown some of our society's most marginalized children.”

Pat Ritz is a descendant of the Failing family, one of the most influential families in Portland during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

“I come from a family that was very engaged in community activities years and years ago, gave a lot of money away,” Ritz said.

According to Ritz, the Failings' largesse was such that his own parents had little money themselves. The Ritzes' wealth, he said, comes from his own success as a businessman.

“I've had a number of very successful businesses,” he said, adding, “When I sold my first company in '95, then I had the means to start doing philanthropy, and that has continued until today.”

In 2014, Pat and Trudy Ritz were honored as “Outstanding Philanthropists” by the Association of Fundraising Professionals of Oregon & Southwest Washington.

“Not everybody's got money,” Pat Ritz remarked. “We happen to have it now, so we give it away.”

Ritz said it is “a great honor” to have an award named after his family, adding, “I really feel good for my wife, because this is Trudy's main charitable goal over the years. … And I feel good about it.”

He said he is struck by the number of pieces at the Portland Art Museum, with which he is also involved — as evidenced by its Pat and Trudy Ritz Gallery — that were donated by the Failing family. He drew a parallel between that legacy and having Youth Villages Oregon found an award in his own family's name.

“This award is probably something that will mean more to my grandkids than it does to me,” he said. “Hopefully, this will compel them like the Failing history compelled me to do it. I hope that our history, the Ritz history, will compel my (successors) to be motivated like I will.”

Ritz added, “There is a great need for volunteers. There is a great need for philanthropy. And so … as a community, we have to figure out how we motivate each successive generation.”

Youth Villages said the Sept. 21 gala raised $82,000 for its YVLifeSet program, which supports foster children as they transition to independent adulthood.

By Mark Miller
Assistant Editor
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