Richard is a board member emeritus and longtime Kadima donor who continues to support Kadima’s annual Golf Tournament and continues to participate in an of-counsel role in the development of the agency.
Written By: Richard Ludwig
In 2001, I was sitting with my family at a holiday dinner. The tragedy of 9/11 was still raw in our minds, and we were discussing how challenging the world is becoming and how difficult it would be for nonprofits going forward in a vulnerable and uncertain economy. At this dinner, we all decided we would do something more in the community.
I knew exactly what I would do for my part. I contacted my friend Richard Zussman, who was involved with the Board for Kadima, and asked him if I could help by serving on the Board or being on a committee. When I joined the Board, I realized it was mostly social work and mental health professionals, and a few lawyers, who participated, but there weren’t really any business people. I brought a business aspect to the board at that time, and now there are several business-minded individuals on the board and the Kadima leadership team who have helped the agency progress from one where the members all want to do good to one that has the fiscal acumen to meet the needs to do good.
Kadima is an agency that provides the most fantastic services to a population that is underserved and often cast aside though so many people and families struggle with these debilitating, long-term conditions but who with proper care and medication can have positive outcomes and be successful. Kadima has been incredibly successful through the years, fueled by the best possible motives. It hasn’t just gained my support; it’s gained my allegiance.
An important principle that guided my life, both as a “throwback hippie” and of the Jewish faith, is to make the world a better place. Throughout my adulthood, I continue to want to do good and believe that if everyone tried just a little bit to make the world a better place, it would be.
Working with Kadima was eye-opening. I recognized the challenges in the greater population and realized there were a lot of people I knew who had some sort of connection to depression or who self-medicated to cope. I started thinking more deeply about this, not just about our clients who are severely impacted by mental illness but about how their families are affected as well. We’re a network of people who are so inter-connected, we all feel the impact of someone who has lost hope because they couldn't get the support they needed. Once I was engaged with Kadima’s mission and started to understand the needs in our community, I haven’t been able to disengage since.
Unfortunately, because of the stigma of mental illness, people who are affected by mental health challenges are constantly facing judgement. It is important that anyone facing these challenges knows they belong in this world, irrespective of our potential differences. We need to have a lot of room in our hearts for people from all kinds of situations and backgrounds because we’re all human beings.