The Eighth Pole Earns Boston Institute Award

New England backstretch assistance program to receive $30,000 gift over three years.

By Lynne Snierson

Needy racetrack workers in New England will soon get a leg up from a locally-based charitable organization that has selected the region’s backstretch assistance program for an award that comes with a sizable gift.

Jim Greene, executive director of The Eighth Pole, received a phone call on the evening of March 6 informing him that the organization will receive the Boston Neighborhood Fellows Award in recognition of individuals who make a difference. The award, which is accompanied by a $10,000 gift in each of three successive years, was granted from the Philanthropic Institute of Boston. It will be bestowed at an April 11 awards ceremony in the city. The gift continues in 2013 and 2014, totaling $30,000. 

“This is very humbling, especially when you look at the list of the past award winners. It is also unexpected as we never even applied for this generous award,” said Greene, who in the past has accepted the Dogwood Dominion Award and other honors on behalf of The Eighth Pole. “It is certainly very much appreciated.”

The Philanthropic Institute is an ally and consultant to ambitious family, foundation, and corporate donors wishing to realize a deep social impact. According to its mission statement, TPI targets a wide range of social issues including education, health, those affecting youth and families, hunger, nutrition, housing and homelessness, community and economic development, civic engagement, environmental issues, and the arts.

“Although there are no restrictions on how this money is to be used, the Eighth Pole has always reinvested the cash awards we have received over the years into our backstretch program,” said Greene, a Thoroughbred owner who founded the program in 1989 with trainer Shirley Edwards. “We will do the same with this money to continue to help improve the quality of life for the backstretch workers in New England.”

The Eighth Pole has been the subject of many regional magazine and newspaper articles, as well as an in-depth report on National Public Radio. The Eighth Pole works with the doctors, nurses, and staff at Boston Medical Center to serve the medical and dental needs of the backstretch workers and it also administers substance abuse and educational programs, as well as providing other services.