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Ruthie Kim of Because Justice Matters

By Julissa James

Ruthie Kim grew up in the picturesque English countryside and now works every day in San Francisco’s gritty Tenderloin. A transformative moment while traveling through Europe as a teenager led her to the City by the Bay: When young Kim gazed at the Eiffel Tower, she felt an overwhelming wave of emotion wash over her.

With tears in her eyes, she realized the deep significance of big cities and understood why people across the world were drawn to places like Paris — and, more important, why each city is a glowing opportunity to make a difference in others’ lives.

She credits this French revelation with her decision to launch Because Justice Matters, a nonprofit that has uplifted women and girls in the Tenderloin for the last decade.

Ruthie Kim, founder of Because Justice Matters.

The cause: Because Justice Matters focuses on the needs of women whose struggles are specific and often overlooked. “They are facing a unique set of challenges that require a unique response,” Kim says. By offering programs like sexual exploitation outreach, heal-ing groups, English lessons, dance classes and Nail Day, the group provides a respite from often abusive situations. They also create an opportunity for these women to get the help they need — whether that’s rehabilitation, making connections with authorities or simply forging meaningful relationships. Kim believes even the smallest gesture can create a lasting impact in their lives. “We want to help women en-vision what their future could look like,” she says.

Founder: Ruthie Kim started the nonprofit in 2008.

Budget: Currently, the organization operates on $500,000 per year.

Key supporters: Leaders from business, creative industries and other communities across San Francisco.

Inspiration: Kim came to the City as a young woman with the intention of being here for six months, but after witnessing San Francisco’s heart for social justice, she was drawn to stay. Those six months turned to 19 years in which Kim’s work has made her a witness to the battles that women in urban communities fight daily. She is constantly inspired by the individ-uals her organization serves. “In the nonprofit world we focus a lot on giving to those in need, but our women and girls have so much to offer,” she says. “It’s not just about giving back, it’s about receiving.”

Impact: Through professionally instructed dance classes, Because Justice Matters instills confidence, discipline and, crucially, a sense of self-worth in the young girls who have participated. (Dance pupils receive more than 20,000 minutes of instruction yearly.) The organization engages with more than 35 families on a weekly basis by offering classes for mothers and English learners. On a monthly basis, it connects with more than 100 women through a variety of mediums. However, as Kim notes, these statistics aren’t everything. “We’re not about numbers. We’re about life transformation.”

Get involved: Kim’s cause relies on donations and volunteers to keep their doors open. Visit becausejusticematters.org to find out more.

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