By James Niedzinski
---- — MANCHESTER — Ralph Bates, 81, of Manchester is no stranger to handing out over-sized cardboard checks.
Last year alone, Bates donated $100,000 each to River House in Beverly, Northeast Senior Health, Action House Inc. and the Pine Street Inn of Boston.
And in 2006, he donated $1 million to the Jimmy Fund, which supports the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.
Now, he’s contributed another $100,000 donation to the Gloucester-based Wellspring House to support its education and job-seeking programs.
”I’m 81, I’m a bachelor and I’ve got no kids,” he said. “I can’t take it with me.”
Bates said he's just looking to help, but he does enjoy the reaction from people when they receive the novelty checks, adding he had more sitting on his balcony on Monday.
Bates owned the Greater Boston House Buyers Guide for 23 years, and a large apartment building in Arlington that he recently sold after 45 years.
Kay O’Rourke, the executive director for Wellspring House, said the generous donation was a bit of a surprise.
”It’s very unusual to see a donation of $100,000,” she said. “It’s a huge help.”
O’Rourke said the money will be used to support education and job search initiatives. She said about 75 people annually use the programs.
When people want to pursue their General Education Development degrees, they often make use of college preparation classes afterward.
”That’s part of our goal, helping people think for more forward,” she said. “If you don’t have a GED, that’s where you start.
”Economics are driving people to take those things on for themselves,” she said. “So they can pass the entrance exams or find a place to do college-level work.”
O’Rourke said the money will also be used to benefit homeless prevention programs; Wellspring House typically services about 300 people annually through homeless prevention, and it provides temporary shelter for families in need.
Wellspring officials make use of community outreach programs and have a small homeless prevention fund. For example, O’Rourke said, if somebody is sick and falls behind on the rent, the homeless prevention fund is there to help people get back on their feet. O’Rourke said the actual shelter in Wellspring is fairly small, and is serving as temporary home to five families now.
Batesalso donated $300,000 to the ALS Association in February 2010; he said his sister, who suffered from the disease, died shortly after the donation was made.
As to his other gifts, North Senior Health officials used the money to buy two new passenger vans for the Spectrum Adult Day Health Programs. The vans are used to transport patients with Alzheimer’s disease to different facilities throughout Massachusetts, making about 800 trips monthly.
What does Bates get out of it?
“People come up to me in the coffee shop and say ‘nice going Batesy,’” he said. “That’s all I’m really after.”
James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000, x 3455 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.