Through their extraordinary civic leadership of many Beacon Hill institutions during the past thirty-five years, Gene and Meredith Clapp have touched the lives of many Beacon Hill residents. So much so that they were presented the Beacon Award by the Beacon Hill Civic Association in 2005.
And next Thursday, May 14, they will again be recognized, this time by Rogerson Communities who will present them with the Charles E. Rogerson Award for Community Service at its annual Welcome Home reception and dinner at the Liberty Hotel.
Rogerson Communities, which has been providing housing and healthcare solutions for those most in need since 1860, is one of the institutions to which the Clapps have shared their professionalism, strength and compassion. “Regardless of income, residents of Beacon Hill share many values, including the belief that great city neighborhoods draw together people from all walks of life,” said Meredith. “That’s why we live here. We want to be exposed to people who are different and interesting.”
They give much of their time reaching out to low-income elders, families and people with disabilities by working to ensure that good quality affordable housing is available to them. Meredith has served on Rogerson’s board of directors, is currently on its board of overseers, and is president of the board that oversees the Beacon House, Peter Faneuil House and Joy Street Residence, all managed by Rogerson. “These properties add so much to our community,” she said. “We learn from each other.”
Last year the Clapps went to bat for the Beacon House when its long-term affordability and value as a community resource was threatened. Rogerson had planned to refinance it in 2013. Investors from thirty years prior were to have capital returned with a share of appreciation, according to Rogerson’s Courtney Barth. In Rogerson’s case, the return was estimated at between $3 million and $5 million. This funding was to be used for current and future projects in line with its mission and pressing community needs. The controlling limited partner rejected the plan to refinance and offered to buy the building or, conversely, be bought out by the general partner.
With an unwavering commitment to retain the Beacon House’s mission, the Clapps energized the community, made the initial gift and lead a fundraising campaign that has so far raised nearly $1.4 million. The Rogerson board supported the community, rejected the investor’s offer of $11 million, and re-invested in Beacon House by purchasing the property, thereby assuring its affordability and community purpose in perpetuity.
It was the second time the community had expressed their desire for the building to remain a haven for elderly and low-income residents, according to Beacon Hill Civic Association archives. Built in 1899, the five-story building was an apartment complex for 350 elderly men of low income who were left homeless when a catastrophic fire in 1980 damaged the building. Developers came forward, wanting to convert the building to high-end condominiums.
But a majority of Beacon Hill residents wanted the building to remain a home for elderly and low-income residents and supported the rights of its former residents to reclaim their units. It was at that time that Rogerson, with the help of the Beacon Hill Civic Association, acquired financing from several sources, became a partner in the House, and oversaw its restoration. Beacon Hillers also contributed money and time to make the project possible, as they have generously done again this year.
The Clapps have been active in numerous other nonprofit organizations in greater Boston. Meredith served more than twenty years as a board member and president of Hill House, where she did extensive work with its outreach program. She has been involved in many local charitable organizations such as the Oasis Coalition. Currently she serves as a volunteer case reviewer with the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families.
Gene has served as treasurer and board member of Partners Continuing Care, a rehabilitation network that includes Spaulding Hospital; a board member of the National Rowing Foundation; a King’s Chapel trustee; a board member and chair of the Beacon Hill Civic Association; board chair of the Advent School and president of the Union Boat Club. Currently he is the treasurer a
nd a board member of the Conservation Law Foundation of New England.
“We are proud to honor Meredith and Gene at the Welcome Home Reception and Dinner,” said Barth. Tickets are still available for the May 14 event, which will benefit Rogerson Communities. For more information, call 617-469-5822 or email [email protected].