Jack Alves

Donor Advised Funds Carry Out Work of Venerable Charlestown Charities

When Charlestown native John (Jack) Alves returned home from military service in Japan in 1954, he began helping his father administer two charities now known as the Hunt Fund for Children and the Charlestown Benevolent Fund. Over the years, he assumed leadership positions in both organizations, helping to make investment decisions, arranging audits and doing whatever was needed.


Mr. Alves, a retired New England Telephone supervisor, said he began worrying about what would happen to the Hunt Fund if he became unable to carry out his duties. After a friend told him about Donor Advised Funds at the Boston Foundation, he investigated. “I had meetings with the [Hunt Fund trustees] and said, ‘This looks good. If something happens to me, what happens to the funds? And who’s going to do the investments?’”

With the trustees’ approval, the Hunt Fund’s assets were transferred into a Donor Advised Fund in 2000 and were invested in the Foundation’s Fund for the 21st Century, which offers three separate investment pools that allow donors to select the option that best matches the time horizon of their charitable giving plan. “It’s the greatest thing that ever happened to me,” Mr. Alves recalls. “They do all the research, all the 990s, all the audits—all I have to do is decide what 501(c)(3) I want to invest in. If something happens to me or I pass away, I have a succession plan. I know what that fund is going to be doing 100 years from now—taking care of kids.”

Help with research

He particularly values the expertise of the Boston Foundation’s Development and Donor Services staff members, who help him research potential grantees. “I can go to the Boston Foundation and say, ‘Here’s an organization I am thinking of funding—can you do some research for me?’”

The Hunt Fund, which was founded in 1833 as an “infant school and children’s home society” for babies and children whose parents could not care for them during the day, now focuses its grant making on scholarships and camp fees for needy children, tutoring programs at the Charlestown Boys and Girls Club, and living history programs at the Harvard-Kent Elementary School in Charlestown, a public school whose 550 students all qualify for free or reduced-cost lunches.

Grants from the Hunt Fund also underwrite “camperships” for Charlestown boys, girls and families at the Grotonwood and Oceanwood camps run by the American Baptist Churches of Massachusetts. Edmund R. Guerard, who raises funds for the organization’s “Friends” group, has worked with Mr. Alves for decades. “Jack’s a very compassionate, very caring person … his intent is always to help people,” says Mr. Guerard, “and he does it without a self-serving attitude–it’s not, ‘Look what I’m doing for people, it’s ‘I’m just grateful I’m in a place where I can help.’”

In addition to his role in the Hunt Fund, Mr. Alves was president of what was then called the Charlestown Poor’s Fund. Created in 1825 for the purposes of managing bequests for the benefit of the town’s needy, the Fund was overseen by deacons of the Charlestown’s Protestant churches and three at-large managers. In 2010, Mr. Alves suggested that the Fund transfer its assets and grant making to the Boston Foundation, which it did that year under the name of the Charlestown Benevolent Fund. Since 2010, it has distributed $154,000 to area churches of all denominations to procure food, clothing and other necessary items for people in need.

Mr. Alves has always been active in Charlestown affairs. A history buff, he was a longtime member and president of the Bunker Hill Monument Association, which was founded in 1823 to erect a monument commemorating the Revolutionary War victory of June 17, 1775.  His affiliation with First Baptist Church in Beverly, where he and his wife Marie now live, led him to become a board member of Harborlight Community Partners, which provides housing and services to low- and moderate-income seniors, families and people with disabilities in Southern Essex County.

“He is really a very benevolent person,” says Mr. Guerard.  “That’s just what he’s all about."