Find out How These Boston Locals Are Making a Positive Impact on the Community

By Lisa Pierpont | December 15, 2017 | People Feature

‘Tis better to give than to receive.” We’ve heard it a million times. After meeting our esteemed squad of philanthropists, there is no question that those words are true. These folks, ranging from masters of the universe (hello, Peter Lynch) to elite athletes, have lived through extreme success, pain and, well, real life. They have come out of all of it with a clear conviction that helping others is the only gift we truly have to give.

CAM AND PAULINA NEELY

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She: a part-time model studying nutrition. He: the right wing for the Boston Bruins. The meeting: a fateful crossing of paths at a vegan restaurant. Boom. Love, marriage, kids. A Hockey Hall of Fame induction for Cam. Then, tragedy. His parents were diagnosed with cancer within six months of each other. Neither would win the battle. Fast-forward to 2017, Cam is president of The Cam Neely Foundation for Cancer Care (camneelyfoundation.org), where Paulina, a philanthropist, is a board member. Together, they are one of Boston’s most impactful philanthropic couples. Score. The goal? Cam: “My family’s experience left us with an urgency to turn this tragedy into something positive. The Neely House at Tufts Medical Center is a home away from home for cancer patients and families. It provides leading-edge medical care and compassionate patient care.” Paulina: “We are also building a nutrition and integrative center for cancer and autoimmune diseases.” [Paulina fought Lyme disease for 10 years.]

The news? Paulina: “We renovated the Neely House with incredible features like quiet rooms, a Bruins Media Room, special spaces that guests can go for peace.” Cam: “Our signature events include the Cam Neely Invitational, a golf classic, and Comics Come Home with Denis Leary, Jimmy Fallon and Lenny Clark. We have raised over $30 million.” Paulina: “Giving back changes the world in a positive way.”

LISA SCHMID

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Let’s just say when Lisa Schmid decides to do something, she does it well. To wit: She’s a Peabody Award-winning documentary producer. She founded Urban Improv, a nonprofit that uses improvisational theater to educate young people about violence prevention and conflict. Her latest venture, with her husband, Joel Alvord, is Our Sisters’ School (oursistersschool.org), a tuition-free middle school for girls in New Bedford. The inspo: “I loved making films, but so much time was put into raising money for a production that raises awareness. This was the first step, which led me to want to do something that directly helps others.” The execution: “Both Joel and I had established schools in very poor regions of Guangxi province in China, but we knew that it was also dire here in our own backyard in New Bedford. Many of Our Sisters’ School graduates receive full scholarships at independent schools and go on to college.” The curriculum: “Our school isn’t just about academics. It’s about the joy of learning. Our students are wonderful. They just need the chances that most of us have had.” The pride: “At times I am so baffled because I was a model student, bouncing from Winsor to a school in Switzerland to a draconian boarding school, but I know I would have thrived had I gone to Our Sisters’ School.”

THE LYNCH FAMILY

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At one point, The Wall Street Journal called Fidelity Investments Magellan Fund mastermind Peter Lynch a “mutual fund rock star.” He ambled around in a conservative business suit rather than leather pants, and what a fan base! One out of 100 Americans was a Magellan investor. Today, he heads up The Lynch Foundation (thelynchfoundation.com), which supports education, cultural and historic preservation, health care and wellness, and the religious and educational efforts of the Roman Catholic Church. A total of $175 million has been given to over 400 nonprofit organizations. It is very much a family affair, meaning that his children and grandchildren are passionately devoted to helping others and to honor the other philanthropic role model, their late mother and the love of Peter’s life, Carolyn. The partnership: “Carolyn and I both went to public schools that happened to be great. We both thought that experience was something everyone should have. The problem in America is called education. There’s 45 million kids in public school; 30 are getting an OK school and the rest are not.” On nonprofit investing: “It’s about sustainability and scalability. You can see which things are really working. With the stock market, you don’t know that until after the fact. Stocks aren’t that obvious. With a charity, you can see if they work... that’s the point we jump in and invest.” Family cause: “We’ve brought the children all on the foundation. They are voting members. And we always did things as a family—dinners, skating—but they knew they were lucky. They knew about Rosie’s Place. They knew about the Pine Street Inn. They knew not everyone is dealt the same cards.” The future: “We’d like to keep this going forever.”

CLAUDETTE AND HENRY CROUSE

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It wasn’t necessarily love at first sight—which was fine. Digital Equipment Corp. executive Henry Crouse met Claudette, his future wife, while interviewing her for a job. She got the position, and the two later would fall madly in love. Forty years later, the Crouses (claudettecrouse.com) are celebrated as Boston movers and shakers in so many realms it’s impossible to count, but at the top of the list are bridging the racial divide and leading the charge for change. Claudette: “I am always involved in supporting organizations that impact the lives of women and children; these include the Children’s Museum, Mentors of Color, The Teacher Bound mentor program at Wheelock and many more. In my social network, my name is always front and center when someone is thinking of a fundraising effort.” Henry: “Besides my involvement in all of Claudette’s philanthropic endeavors, I have chosen to make my impact by helping minorities and women grow their businesses.” Claudette: “My husband has supported me in every endeavor. Recruiting many of his business and personal colleagues to my causes.” Henry: “Claudette jumps right into things. I, on the other hand, am a person who breaks things down into pieces and builds on each one separately. We are partners in all aspects of our life.” Claudette: “Our philanthropic goal is to make a difference and to help those in need improve their lives.”

HENRY HORNBLOWER

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Deep within the dark wooden and hallowed halls of the New England Historic Genealogical Society (americanancestors.org) on Newbury Street, you will find him. The dapper-looking millennial marketing manager sporting a crisp navy suit and red patterned tie. The name? Henry Hornblower, thank you; the grandson of Henry Hornblower II, founder of the Plimoth Plantation. Th ough his grandfather passed away early, young Henry says he always identifi ed with him. “Th e stories of his generosity and kindness really inspired me to dip my toes into the philanthropic world.” Say hello to this next-gen giver, who plans to dive into the charitable waters with a particular focus on Parkinson’s disease. On roots: “Genealogy means diff erent things to people. Our visitors are always finding out amazing family connections— some find they are related to presidents or celebrities. I found out my family has a direct line to Mayflower passenger Stephen Hopkins.” On giving back: “Our time on this world is finite. Years from now, I want to know I made a positive impact on people’s lives.” Family and Friendship: “Parkinson’s disease is a terrible illness that has aff ected my family. My good friends, Rehana Ashraf and Anne Greene, founded Celebrate Spring Boston to honor those who have been lost to Parkinson’s disease. It’s really important for me to support them and this critical cause. Next year’s event on April 27 will be the biggest and best ever!”

Categories: People Feature

Photography by Melissa Mahoney, Eric Levin, Cheryl
Richards, and Rachel Gianatasio for Elevin Studios

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