Clearinghouse Honors John Keith and Shelley Hoon Keith at 29th Annual Meeting

From left: Howard Cohen, John Keith, Shelley Hoon Keith, and Larry Curtis. Photo by Brigitte Gong.

On June 1, nearly 200 members of the legal, nonprofit, and business communities gathered at the Boston office of Nixon Peabody to join Lawyers Clearinghouse in honoring John Keith and Shelley Hoon Keith.

John, the CEO of Keith Construction, Inc. and Keith Properties, and Shelley, the CEO of Hoon Construction Services Inc., were presented with the Lawyers Clearinghouse Leadership Award in recognition of their commitment and support of affordable housing, education, and the nonprofit sector. 

It was a highly successful event for the Clearinghouse. The organization raised $191,000 from nearly 100 event sponsors with the help of an energetic Leadership Committee chaired by Howard Cohen, of Beacon Communities, and Larry Curtis, of WinnDevelopment. Following a surprise pledge from John Keith, that amount rose to $220,000, matching the funds raised through last year’s record-setting event honoring Mike Fish, of Dellbrook | JKS.

The evening kicked-off with remarks from Jeff Sacks, a longtime member of the Clearinghouse Board and a partner at Nixon Peabody, who thanked attendees on behalf of Nixon Peabody.

Attendees then heard from Emily Hodge, President of the Clearinghouse Board of Directors and a partner at Choate Hall & Stewart, who provided an overview of the Clearinghouse’s work over the past year.

Last May, the Clearinghouse received a $100,000 grant from Cummings Foundation, to be awarded in $50,000 installments over two years, in support of the Legal Clinic for the Homeless. Emily explained how the Clearinghouse had used the funds to expand the clinic program, adding two new clinic locations at area shelters, hiring experienced legal services lawyer and Access to Justice Fellow Dick Bauer to serve as a mentor for clinic attorneys, and recruiting more volunteers.

“It appears we were just in time,” Emily noted. “Because as we finish this year, we expect to have served 30% more clients than last year.”

Clearinghouse Board President Emily Hodge. Photo by Brigitte Gong.

Emily also spoke about the Clearinghouse’s other pro bono programs, which include the Legal Referral Program for nonprofits, and the Access to Justice Fellows Program, which engages retired attorneys and judges in pro bono projects, before closing her remarks by thanking attendees and supporters for their donations, which will enable the Clearinghouse to expand its services even more in the coming year.

Emily’s remarks about the importance of legal services served as a fitting introduction to the next set of speakers: Kathy McGrath, a member of the Clearinghouse Board and Assistant Vice President and Senior Corporate Counsel at Liberty Mutual, and Richard, a Legal Clinic client who Kathy has worked with over the past three years.

Kathy introduced Richard, who she met during a Legal Clinic at the Pine Street Inn homeless shelter. When they met, Richard was living at the shelter, but he wasn’t actually homeless; Richard owned a condo outside of Boston, which had been condemned by the local Board of Health due to his struggles with hoarding.

Richard’s subsequent remarks moved many attendees. He spoke candidly about his hoarding issues and about how he’d come to find himself at Pine Street after a 35-year teaching career in the Boston Public School system.

Richard credited Kathy and many others with helping him turn his life around, explaining how women from the professional organizing company Ducks in a Row had cleaned his condo, how a CPA from Marcum LLP had assisted with years of unfiled tax returns, how attorneys from Mintz Levin had worked on the condo’s short-sale and helped him file for bankruptcy, and how his case manager at Pine Street had helped him with housing applications.

In May, Richard found out his application for elder housing had been accepted. He expressed deep gratitude, acknowledging how important legal services are for those who are struggling.

“I see guys [at Pine Street] decades younger than myself; they’re getting help from all of you,” he said. “I couldn’t have done this myself and fortunately I didn’t have to, so I thank those of you who were there for me.”

Following a standing ovation for Richard, Emily Hodge returned to the podium to recognize three long-serving members of the Clearinghouse Board:

Members of the Clearinghouse Board of Directors. From left: Emily Hodge, Jeffrey Sacks, Nancy Blueweiss, Douglas Henry, Josephine McNeil, Kathleen Phelps, Kathleen McGrath, and Stephen Nolan. Photo by Brigitte Gong.

Jeff Sacks, a member for 20 years; Steve Nolan, of Nolan Sheehan Patten, a member for 25 years; and Cindy Rowe, of Rowe Resources, a member for 25 years.

Event Co-chairs Howard Cohen and Larry Curtis presented the Leadership Award to John and Shelley, both of whom Howard and Larry have known for years through their work together in the affordable housing sector. 

“They’re kind, they’re thoughtful, they’re energetic, they’re successful, they’re philanthropic, they do it all just so well,” Howard said. “They’ve touched so many lives in Massachusetts, that it’s really hard to tell the full story. It was really a pleasure to have the opportunity to honor them tonight and I think the Lawyers Clearinghouse has done a remarkable thing by singling them out for their contributions to the community.”

After accepting the Leadership Award, John and Shelley thanked Howard, Larry, and all of those in attendance. John then spoke of the many lawyers he’s known over the years and made his aforementioned pledge to donate the money needed to match last year’s fundraising amount, to much applause.

Shelley explained how, when she first started her career at a housing nonprofit, she watched many attorneys assisting those in need of housing.

“And housing is not just brick and mortar; it’s beyond that,” she said. “So I thank you again for being here, contributing, and continuing to fight. The fight will be harder, but we have to be smarter.”

Clearinghouse Board Treasurer, Teresa Santalucia, a partner at Klein Hornig, closed out the reception, thanking attendees, sponsors, the Leadership Committee, and the Clearinghouse Board and staff for their contributions to such a successful event.

More photos of this event can be found on our Flickr page.

The Clearinghouse would like to thank our sponsors and guests for supporting us and contributing to another successful event. Funds raised through the annual meeting will support our pro bono legal services and educational seminars for nonprofits, the Massachusetts Legal Clinic for the Homeless, and the Access to Justice Fellows Program.

 

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