Dieter Ruddies, who would have turned 100 this year, definitely left his mark on the Hochsauerland region. Together with his wife, Ruddies – the founder of what is today burgbad AG – established the Ursula and Dieter Ruddies Foundation exactly 25 years ago.
To celebrate this anniversary, the foundation – in consultation with burgbad – announced its sponsorship of a regional project that forms part of a Caritas initiative called “Heimat-Helden” (Local Heroes). It adopted an after school centre in Meschede that was in urgent need of tablets and laptops so that the children could take advantage of important online offerings during the corona pandemic. The centre also needed help to cover the cost of renovating the outdoor playground equipment, which was in poor condition. With the support of the Ruddies Foundation, it was possible to do both just as the new school year started.
“I’ve known about the after school centre and the excellent work it does for a long time – it’s a project that’s very close to my heart,” explains the founders’ daughter Annelie Ruddies-Warwitz, who is carrying on her parents’ charitable work as chairwoman of the Ursula and Dieter Ruddies Foundation. Annelie Ruddies-Warwitz knows the after school centre from her more than 20 years of voluntary work on the council of the Meschede Caritas Association.
The fact that burgbad is headquartered in the Sauerland today is all because a friend of Ruddies’ invited him to Bad Fredeburg. Born in Gumbinnen in what was then East Prussia, the entrepreneur and local politician took him up on his offer after World War II. Ruddies stayed, started a family and founded a firm – two things that he believed belonged together. That conviction eventually led to the creation of a charitable family foundation. “My father wanted to give something back to the region that had become home to him, where he founded his company and where his family is so happy,” says Annelie Ruddies-Warwitz of her father’s commitment.
burgbad, which has remained faithful to its family-oriented philosophy even as an internationally active public limited company and a wholly owned subsidiary of the Turkish ECZACIBASI Group, likewise attaches great importance to regional commitment. “In view of the global challenges we’re facing and the recent catastrophe in our own country, it’s vital to set an example at local level. The disastrous flooding that affected the Ahrtal valley showed just how important solidarity is in times of crisis,” says Stefan Sallandt, who has been CEO of burgbad AG since July 2021. In summer, for instance, burgbad joined in a planting effort to restore damaged woodland in collaboration with Schmallenberg Municipal Forest. The initiative will be repeated this autumn in honour of burgbad’s 75th anniversary.
The after school centre in Meschede – the result of a private initiative to promote the integration of children from working-class families who are new to the area – is operated by Caritas as an independent entity. For 26 schoolchildren – mostly from immigrant backgrounds – it provides a home away from home where they can go after school for a meal, help with their homework and a variety of creative and sporting activities. In the underlying concept, the resulting structure this gives to the children’s daily lives is just as important as the individual support they receive in the form of social competence and empowerment training, which focuses on personality development. And so, as a result of the Caritas project, Dieter Ruddies – even though he came to the region from far away – has earned himself the title of “local hero”.