“My inspiration is my parents,” says Ruth Weinberg, who grew up in London, the daughter of German-Jewish refugees who felt welcome in England. “They created a nonprofit to provide affordable housing for international grad students and their families.” After graduating from the Dorset House School of Occupational Therapy, Weinberg got her first job at an old Victorian psychiatric hospital. When it shut down, she spent a year on an organic farm in New Zealand and two years with a group home for adults with developmental disabilities in Alaska.
She arrived in Eugene in 1993 and worked for five years at the Laurel Hill Center, helping people with mental illness. “Kip Kinkel got me to shift my focus to kids,” she says, and she moved to Early Childhood CARES, a UO-affiliated agency that provides early-childhood special education in Lane County. In 2013, she took a year off in La Conceptión, Nicaragua, to learn Spanish and to volunteer with children with disabilities. “It was eye-opening to see kids who had never been to school or received services,” says Weinberg, who got permission to use a classroom in the town school. She trained a local psychologist, a teacher and a physical therapist to work with the children. She named her enterprise CIELO de Amor and registered it as a nonprofit. Now serving 35 children with a staff of six, CIELO de Amor will celebrate its first anniversary from 3 to 7 pm Sunday, Sept. 27, at Claim 52, 1030 Tyinn Street in west Eugene. Festivities will include a silent auction, carnival games, food and drink and live music by the Beat Root Band and Piel Canela. Details and photos at cielodeamor.org.