“Fantastic!” is the response you receive when you ask Rita Ullom how her day is going—even if that day was filled with unexpected, stressful occurrences. Rita lives her life with optimism, compassion, and a heart as big as her extended family. She is a member of Opportunity International’s Board of Governors; thanks to her energy and advocacy, our clients are working their way out of poverty to live with dignity and purpose.
Rita grew up in a large, busy household; her Lebanese grandmother cooked delicious meals and “kept the family in line;” she is named after her aunt, a woman of strength—as is her namesake. Like her parents, Rita worked hard and started in the construction industry where she enjoyed a successful career and eventually met her husband, Todd. Rita also makes time to pursue painting; her colorful, generous artwork captures the spirit and heart of her friends and family.
Several years ago, Rita became certified as a diabetes prevention specialist through Holy Cross Hospital. Rita’s natural energy and enthusiasm, combined with her innate respect and willingness to “walk in another’s shoes,” made her an exceptional coach for people struggling with managing a life-changing disease. She has coached more than 25 cohorts of patients—in English and Spanish—as they learn about nutrition, fitness, and stress management. Each cohort commits to a 12-month program; by the end of the year, most patients have lost weight, gotten off their medications, and gained a brighter outlook on their lives.
Rita’s husband, Todd, had been a long-standing and generous supporter of Opportunity International. He introduced Rita to the organization; they attended a gathering hosted at the home of another Opportunity donor where they learned about Opportunity’s work in empowering women. Rita’s heart and mind were moved; since then, the Ulloms have been walking with Opportunity’s clients on our journey. This past February, Todd and Rita hosted their own Opportunity gathering where friends learned about the innovative ways Opportunity is making a difference in the lives of people who have been marginalized: “Opportunity’s work is focused on empowering women living in poverty; really, they empower us,” Rita noted.
We are so fortunate to count Rita as a loyal member of the Opportunity family.