ML - Boston Common

2013 - Issue 4 - Fall

Boston Common - Niche Media - A side of Boston that's anything but common.

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Page 67 of 155

SPIRIT OF GENEROSITY John Hailer playing Connect Four with children from The Home for Little Wanderers. The Fixer THANKS TO JOHN HAILER'S EFFORTS, FEWER AT-RISK KIDS IN MASSACHUSETTS WILL FALL BETWEEN THE CRACKS IN A TOUGH SYSTEM. BY REBECCA M. KNIGHT I t was spring of 1989. John Hailer, then a brash 26-year-old vice president of marketing at the Patriot Group, sat in his office in downtown Boston, admiring his first bonus check—a modest sum by today's standards. He had big plans for the money. He wanted to catch up on his credit card bills, pay off some of his student loans, and perhaps buy himself a new suit at Filene's Basement. In the midst of his payday musings, Tom Hoovey—a portfolio manager he respected—strolled in to Hailer's shared office and asked him if he planned to donate any of his newfound riches to charity. "I thought I was being funny when I answered back: 'I'm the charity,'" says Hailer. "Tom laughed, but then he started telling me about the importance of giving back. He introduced me to an organization called Boston Children's Services, which later became The Home for Little Wanderers. That's when everything changed for me." Hailer (pronounced "high-lur") gave a bit of that bonus check to the The Home—the oldest continuously operated children's charity in the nation— and he also started volunteering there. He joined the board of Boston Children's Services in 1992, and in 2005 was named chairman of The Home. Since then, he has helped the charity raise more than $23 million, enabling it to start new programs in Roxbury and build a school on 166 acres in Walpole. One of The Home's biggest fundraisers of the year, the Generous Masters Golf Marathon, takes place this month at Black Rock Country Club. "Once you start visiting different programs and meeting the kids, you end up feeling like they're really a part of you," says Hailer. In 2011, nearly 9,000 children in the state of Massachusetts were removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect and placed with foster families or in residential schools and programs like those run by The Home. All told, The Home serves more than 7,000 children and families in the state through a variety of programs, including health and clinical services, counseling, psychological testing, and educational preparation. Hailer's approach to The Home is best —JOHN HAILER described as pragmatic compassion. The kids there have had hard lives, and providing for them isn't always easy. "Sometimes their parents aren't around. They're dead or in jail, or they're abusive. There's a whole list of different stories. A lot of these kids will end up homeless or with criminal issues or problems with addiction. But by giving them support now, we're helping them beat those odds." Hailer recalls his recent meeting with a band of kids at Harrington House, a group home in Mission Hill, run by The Home. At Harrington House, many children feel stable and secure for the first time in their lives. "They are like children in so many ways, but they are so smart," he says. "How can you not want to help?" continued on page 68 66 PHOTOGRAPHY BY STEVE EDSON "By giving kids support now, we're helping them beat the odds." BOSTONCOMMON-MAGAZINE.COM 066-071-BC_SP_SpOfGen_Fall13.indd 66 8/5/13 5:18 PM

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