By Jim Armstrong, WBZ-TV

BEVERLY (CBS) – A homeless shelter in Beverly is reopening Monday, thanks in part to the kindness of strangers.

In April, funding problems forced River House to shut down, and ever since, the homeless shelter has been trying to raise the money it needs to operate. For one donor who is helping make that possible, this is only the beginning.

“When they put you in the big box, you can’t take the money with you. And if they do give it to you in the box, it ain’t going to do you any good,” says Ralph Bates.

At 81, single with no children, Bates says he’s been very lucky, making his money on real estate. And now he’s giving a lot of it away. “Helping people who need help, that’s what I’m trying to do,” he says.

River House in Beverly is the latest recipient of Mr. Bates’ generosity.

The shelter serves 22 homeless men each night, and is getting a $100,000 donation from Bates. That’s a big reason it’s back in business. “We’re so grateful for that kind of generosity.

It restores the faith of the men who stay here, that someone who has no skin in the game whatsoever would think of them and do something that is so immensely helpful,” says Kate Benashki, the Executive Director of River House.

A display of oversized checks in Ralph’s house shows some of his generosity. Over the last 6 years he has donated nearly $3-million to the Jimmy Fund, the Pine St. Inn, the ALS Association and a community center in Canada where his family is from, and that’s only the start.

“I’m planning to do more, yes. What it’s going to be I don’t know. I get a big thrill out of being able to do something like this and have people say, hey nice going Batesy, nice job,” he says.

When River House reopens this evening it won’t be just Ralph Bates’ donation that’s responsible. An anonymous donor has made a large gift, state money is now supporting the shelter due to State Sen. Frederick Berry, and many smaller donors are, too.


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