Although Gloria Spitzer’s first volunteer job was more than 75 years ago, she remembers it clearly. She was only 12 years old and rode a bus to Jewish Hospital of St. Louis, where her tasks included wrapping syringes, delivering food trays to patients and pushing book carts. This was the start to a lifetime of giving back that would leave a mark on the St. Louis community.
The details of that first experience of volunteerism stick in Gloria’s mind so many years later because her parents had instilled in her at an early age the importance of helping others.
“My mother would say that volunteering are the dues you owe the community,” Gloria recalls. “You’ve got to give back.”
Sanford “Sandy” Spitzer, Gloria’s husband, came from a similar background in which philanthropy and volunteerism were important family priorities. Following their parents’ traditions, the couple has been active in the St. Louis community for many years, donating their generosity and time to a wide range of nonprofits and charitable organizations.
While the Spitzers have many interests, health care has always been a strong focus, particularly when it comes to Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Barnes and Jewish Hospitals merged to form Barnes-Jewish Hospital in 1996. Both Gloria and Sandy were born at Jewish Hospital as were their four children.
“Barnes-Jewish Hospital has helped us take care of ourselves and both of us were very grateful for the care we and family members have received,” Gloria says.
In one of many examples, they were among the initial donors to the M. Randall Spitzer Leukemia Fund in 1990 at The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital. The fund honors the memory of their nephew, who died of the disease when he was just 37. Later, they established The Sanford and Gloria Spitzer Endowed Fellowship Fund to support heart and vascular research at the hospital. Both Sandy and Gloria had experienced heart problems and they launched the fund at the Foundation to honor their cardiologists.
“The endowment for research and improved care helps not only our family, but everyone’s family,” Sandy says. “We want our gift to help expand knowledge and treatment of the heart.”
Sandy and Gloria are also passionate contributors to numerous other areas including hospice care and Evelyn’s House, the Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes-Jewish College and cancer research. Regarding the latter, their generosity includes a gift to Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center through their legacy trust. For them, the support is both philanthropic and personal. But more importantly, the Spitzers say cancer has touched so many of their family members and friends.
“I have three very close friends who have been breast cancer survivors for 30 years,” says Gloria. “This couldn’t have happened 50 years ago. But cures are more frequent now. We hope that gifts to research will lead to even more discoveries.”
“You don’t have to be a big donor,” Sandy says. Gloria agrees, adding, “It’s not just about the money. You get so much more when you give back.”