Ladue resident Alice Ludmer, is our third profile on Local Women of Worth who will be honored by the Gateway Voice of Mid-Life and Older Women (OWL) at the Annual WOW Awards dinner at the Missouri Athletic Club on October 13.
As with the previously-honored women, Ludmer began volunteering in grade school.
“It was typical grade school stuff,” she said. “I volunteered in the cafeteria and the library. When my kids went to school, I was the art appreciation lady, picture lady, and in the parents’ association.
“It was in my blood because I came from a family that was very committed to the community,” she said. “So it came naturally enough to continue. People would ask me to serve on committees and I would say yes, and I loved it.”
“In those days, there weren’t executive directors for non-profits,” Ludmer said. “It was volunteer-driven. I went to national board meetings where I took part in training programs.
“I did advocacy and education for a couple of years,” she said. “We would go to Washington DC, where we would see our state legislators about the issues we had learned in our training programs. “
One event that stands out in Ludmer’s mind was December 6, 1987 on the eve of the Washington DC summit between Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev and President Ronald Reagan. Over 250,000 people demonstrated on the National Mall representing solidarity for Soviet Jewry.
“We had made phone calls and sent letters to get them released,” Ludmer said. “I went to the summit. To see thousands of people in one place was an amazing adventure.”
Ludmer currently serves on the board of the Jewish Community Center as Chair of Adult Services and Nutrition Department which oversees the Center’s acclaimed Adult Day Center.
“It has a couple of divisions, one of which is nutrition, and we provide more than 180,000 healthy kosher meals for our preschool children and covenant House which is our older adult housing unit," Ludmer said. "We also have a state-licensed, state-of-the-art adult day service program, and we’re licensed for up to 50 people. We’ll go out to the community, pick them up in our busses, and bring them back where we have social workers and nurses on staff.”
Ludmer feels deeply about issues such as child abuse and the plight of women who are abused and have no where to go.
“If you’re a single parent and the doctor says you have to have chemo, where do you go?” To help with problems such as this, she has worked on the “Razzle Dazzle” event that raises funds for the St. Louis Crisis Nursery.
Ludmer said that she has found people willing to help, even in these economic times.
"Not everyone wants direct contact, but that doesn’t mean they’re not generous,” she said. “Just picking up the phone and saying, ‘Can I talk to you about this project I’m working on,’ I can’t tell you how many people have said ‘How much do you want,’ and they open their check book and open their hearts. St. Louis is a very generous city.”
The “Chronicle of Philanthropy,” agrees because it ranked St. Louis eighth in the nation in philanthropic donations, with a 2010 amount of $4.7 million.
As an only child, Ludmer’s mother died when she was 15. “She was in real estate and believed in giving. My dad was a very quiet man and we lived a simple life.”
She got her best advice from her father, Nathan Class. “He showed me by example,” she said. “He told me ‘The most important and only thing you leave behind is a good name.’ And that’s what I intend to do.”
Ludmer and her husband, Alan, owner of Voyager Search Associates, have two children, Steven, who lives in New York with wife Gloria, and Stephanie Ludmer Gross. Stephanie and husband Geoffrey have two children, Norah, 5, and Bari, 3, and live in St. Louis.
Besides the JCC Board, Ludmer has also given generously of her time and talent to Hillel, Congregation Shaare Emeth, National Council of Jewish Women, New Jewish Theater, St. Louis Crisis Nursery and The Wellness Community. She is also chairing “Let's Give Burn the Boot!,” a fashion show to benefit the Missouri Children's Burn Camp that will be held Thursday, September 22, at Saks Fifth Avenue.
Known as the “Million Dollar Volunteer” because she has raised that much through her ongoing fund raising events, Ludmer is quick to credit her committees and friends for helping her on her way. “It’s such a group effort that I don’t like to feel personally responsible. Plus, I’ve made wonderful life time friends – probably not one program that I worked that I did not find a dear friend.”
“Besides,” she said, “I love a good party,”