Car magnate Ernie Boch Jr donates $50,000 to Vermont addiction recovery centers

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Car magnate Ernie Boch Jr donates $50,000 to Vermont addiction recovery centers

Tue, 05/06/2014 - 5:30am -- tim

by Laura Krantz vtdigger.org Car dealership mogul Ernie Boch Jr announced last Wednesday he will donate $50,000 to a substance abuse treatment facility in Rutland. Boch joined Governor Peter Shumlin at a news conference in Montpelier on Wednesday to announce his gift to Recovery House in Rutland. Recovery House Inc CEO Richard Keane’s jaw dropped when Boch spontaneously doubled his donation from an anticipated $25,000.

“The work that Serenity House is doing is fantastic,” said Boch, the multi-millionaire president and CEO of Subaru of New England who also owns seven New England dealerships that sell vehicles ranging from Toyotas to Ferraris.

Recovery House is comprised of Serenity House in Wallingford and Grace House in Rutland. Serenity House is a residential treatment facility. Grace House helps clients transition back into the community from residential treatment.

“We’re going to try to beef up our therapy and education groups,” Keane said when asked how Recovery House will spend the money.

Keane said he learned of the donation Friday when the governor’s office called.

Recovery House has an annual budget of $1.5 million, Keane said. Its funding is a combination of Medicaid money, a state grant for uninsured clients, self-paying clients, third-party insurers and several other grants, he said.

In April, 98 percent of new Recovery House clients were addicted to heroin, Keane’s staff said Wednesday after the news conference. He said they admit between 30 and 40 new patients a month.

Boch on Wednesday emphasized his love for Vermont and described his personal friendship with Shumlin, which started when he donated to the post-Irene cleanup.

“I love Vermont, I truly, truly love the state,” Boch said.

Boch also donated $25,000 in 2012 and 2013 to help clean up after Tropical Storm Irene.

Boch’s net worth is estimated at $500 million. He made headlines last month in Massachusetts, his home state, for raising the minimum hourly wage of his employees.

Boch’s Norwood, Mass., mansion was profiled last year by the Wall Street Journal.

Boch had a house in West Bridgewater but lost it in a divorce, he said.

Boch has also supported Shumlin’s political efforts. He and Subaru of New England each donated $2,000 to Shumlin’s campaign during the 2011-2012 election cycle, according to VTDigger.org’s campaign finance database.

Shumlin bragged Vermonters buy more Subarus per capita than anyone in the world.

Asked why Boch’s donation was touted at a news conference, Shumlin said such bold donations deserve recognition.

“It’s not every day that someone has the vision to come and give $50,000 to an organization that is struggling to do the job that they’re being assigned to do in an environment where they get more and more clients through the door than, frankly, they can cope with,” Shumlin said.

“Hopefully, it will inspire other businesses to give also,” Boch said.