Ronda Felder, a social worker for the County of San Diego, gave her life to people in need, always doing whatever it took to make room in her home, her heart and her family for anyone who was hurting, lost or abandoned, her daughter said.
Felder died Aug. 3 at Kaiser Permanente San Diego Medical Center, where she had been battling COVID-19 for a month. She was 60.
One of Felder’s two daughters, Treasure Felder, 33, of San Diego, said her mother leaves behind a legacy of love and service, something she showed not just to her own daughters, Treasure Felder and Chomedy Curry, 38, but to the dozens of foster children she helped raise, her church family at New Creation Church of San Diego, her relatives, the children she watched over as a social worker and anyone else in need.
“She was all about her family, those related to her by blood and those related to her by love,” her daughter, Treasure Felder said Tuesday.
When Treasure Felder was in middle school, her mom would take in her classmates and friends “whose moms weren’t doing OK,” sharing with them her family’s modest home and resources.
“Even though we didn’t have a lot she always made space,” Treasure Felder said. “Sometimes we were all sleeping on top of each other, but we had a home.”
Ronda Felder was constantly on the move, always working to improve life for others, never slowing down, rarely getting exhausted, almost never getting sick, Treasure Felder said. As a single mother, she worked full time after the family moved from New York to San Diego in 1998. She began pursuing a college education in 2003.
Ronda Felder graduated from San Diego State University in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in social work, Treasure Felder said.
“She’d go to work at 5 a.m., work eight hours, come home, make sure we had what we needed and then she would go to school,” Treasure Felder said. “She’d come home late and do it all over again, every day for years.”
Ronda Felder’s warm and “beautiful heart,” combined with the toughness in her personality and strength of character is part of what enabled her to be a rock for so many people, the “someone everyone needed,” Treasure Felder said.
But she also had a more playful side not everyone got a chance to see, Treasure Felder said. For example, she loved to let Treasure and Treasure’s best friend put makeup on her and dress her up.
“People assumed she wasn’t the type, when deep down, she really was,” Treasure Felder said.
Once Ronda Felder graduated from college at the age of 50, she did not slow down one bit, Treasure Felder said. She got a job as a social worker for the county, and worked tirelessly for the children on her list, even after the pandemic began this Spring. First she visited them on video chat services, then, when the county directed social workers to resume visiting children, in person.
Treasure Felder said her mother felt her work was a calling, and she answered the call even though she knew she was putting her life in danger with every in-person visit amid the pandemic.
“She knew the risk, but in many ways, she thought she was protected by God because she was doing God’s work,” Treasure Felder said.
She is survived by her mother, sister, children, grandchildren, many other blood relatives and countless people with whom she shared her limitless love.