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New England Patriots Foundation

Congratulations to our 2016 Patriots Difference Makers of the Week!

Del-Marie Bachand
PinkHippy.org

Del started pinkhippy.org to fulfill a need for free holistic services for breast cancer patients in the community and over the past five years, the organization has grown steadily. She makes yoga classes, oncology massages, art classes, meditation and other programs easily accessible for patients. Events are hosted in the community so the patients do not have to return to the hospital and can enjoy being around others that understand what they are going through. Del created this out of a need to help and provide services where the services weren't offered and were needed. She pulls in people that have different backgrounds and experiences to help grow the organization. If there is something she cannot do, she will pull in someone that is able to do it.  What Del does is from the heart. She doesn't like to see anyone suffer, or hurt, or not be able to do what they would like to do because of their cancer diagnosis. As a breast cancer survivor herself, she is determined to help provide other survivors with the resources and services they need to battle cancer.

Nick Sisler
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay

Nick has been volunteering at Big Brothers Big Sisters for the past nine years, spending most of his time paired up with Evan. When they were first matched, Nick was a student-athlete on the M.I.T. hockey team. Shortly thereafter, Evan was diagnosed with OCD and Tourette Syndrome, leading him to feel self-conscious. Nick never shied away from Evan and has served as a role model to Evan, encouraging him to experience new things. Nick has taught Evan how to skate, encouraged him to join youth hockey teams and also invited Evan to be an extended part of the M.I.T. hockey team, by skating with the team during practice, assisting with the scoreboard and joining them at games. While Evan was being home schooled, Nick was instrumental in helping to provide him with opportunities to leave his house and to gain confidence as well as social access. Nick’s unwavering commitment to Evan earned him recognition as the 2016 Massachusetts Big of the Year.

Kimberly Gagne
Boys Town New England

For more than five years, Kimberly Gagne and her husband John have been volunteering at Boys Town New England, a nonprofit dedicated to serving at-risk children and families. They started by hosting a bible study for children but became more actively involved by helping to make a deliver lunches for families. They also provided Thanksgiving meals to families in need, set up movie and game nights and eventually began to mentor a few of the teenage boys who did not have a family of their own. Kimberly, a foster parent herself, also began to recruit foster parents. Over the past two years, she has successfully recruited 25 families to become foster parents. She also created a network of volunteers to help support the foster parents and provide both guidance and advice. Kimberly is a fulltime registered nurse that is currently raising six foster and adopted children, but she still manages to find the time to offer her support to Boys Town New England. 

Elizabeth Karagosian
Bridges

For the past six years, Liz has been a dedicated advocate and supporter of Bridges: Domestic and Sexual Violence Support Services. She is currently the chairperson of the board of directors and medical director for their Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program. This program provides specially trained nurses to conduct forensic exams on domestic and sexual violence survivors in the emergency department. Liz is the only doctor in the state to be trained as a SANE and is always on call. Through her dedication, the local SANE program has become the best in the state. She ensures survivors receive compassionate care, gathers quality evidence and has the right people available to testify in their sexual assault or domestic violence case. Liz is constantly advocating for survivors of domestic violence and is always willing to do whatever it takes to support Bridges.

Jason DeMarzo
Read to a Child

For more than six years, Jason volunteered his time at the Whittemore School in Waltham to read to children. Every week, he would read one-on-one to a high risk child during their lunch period. During these readings, Jason was so moved by his interactions that he began recruiting his coworkers to be a part of the program. In addition to volunteering and recruiting people to be a part of the program, Jason has made personal financial contributions and helped to secure grant funding from his company, New York Life. He is now the Chairman of Read to a Child’s Boston Regional Board and has been a leader in planning and organizing the nonprofit’s fundraising events. Jay is a consistent champion for the organization and has been a major part of their growth over the years. His volunteerism and dedication has positively impacted more than 700 high risk children who are served each year by Read to a Child.

Brendan Aylward
Special Olympics Massachusetts

Brendan started volunteering for Special Olympics Massachusetts 9 years ago, when he was a sophomore in high school. He is now the head coach and director of the Central MA Program, coaching four sports including basketball, golf, powerlifting and soccer. Brendan is responsible for booking the courts and fields and coordinates all of the teams’ practices. He is a creative leader that is constantly coming up with new drills and “practice playlists” to help keep everyone’s attention. Brendan keeps all of the families updated with weekly emails, works with local organizations to acquire uniforms, organizes team bonding events and recruits high school players to assist with the practices. He understands every athlete on the team and remains calm, cool and collected at all times. Brendan epitomizes what it means to be a leader, while also serving as a friend and mentor to the athletes.

Allyson Marrinan
Universal Promise

Allyson is passionate about female empowerment and is dedicated to inspiring young girls across the globe to be confident, independent and strong. This summer, she traveled 8,000 miles to South Africa to help empower girls in an impoverished township called Nomathamsanqa. Allyson captivated the girls with her stories and delivered a powerful message that inspired confidence amongst the community. She spoke about the importance of education, health, human decency, nutrition and served as a leader to youth. Since learning about Universal Promise in 2012, Allyson has been dedicated to supporting the nonprofit’s efforts. From raising money at a lemonade stand, to creating a Universal Promise club at her high school, to donating $5,000 of her own money to the nonprofit, to traveling across the globe, Allyson has remained steadfast in her commitment to giving back. 
 

Dr. David Kane
Josh Thibodeau Helping Hearts Foundation

Josh Thibodeau tragically past away at the age of 12 from a previously undiagnosed heart condition. Dr. Kane, a cardiologist, heard about Josh's passing and he reached out to the family to encourage them to get heart screenings. Dr. Kane ultimately became their cardiologist after diagnosing Josh's younger brother with a potentially fatal heart condition. He also volunteered to be the medical director for the Josh Thibodeau Helping Hearts Foundation, where he helps to organize heart screenings for high school students. Dr. Kane has screened hundreds of students across Massachusetts and has diagnosed students who had previously undetected heart conditions. He is able to sit down with students that have been diagnosed, walk them through their test results and discuss the next steps. Dr. Kane's expertise and selflessness has allowed the organization to grow and provide life-saving heart screenings to students.

 

Alvin Notice
Tiana Angelique Notice Foundation

Since the tragic loss of his daughter to domestic violence, Alvin has made it his mission to help other victims. In 2009, the same year as his daughter's death, he founded the Tiana Angelique Notice Foundation. Over the past seven years, Alvin has been a leader in making changes to increase support and resources for victims of domestic violence in Connecticut and Massachusetts. He has collaborated with the Harvard University Gender Violence Program and successfully made legislative changes, including the implementation of the use of GPS systems in Connecticut. Alvin has personally advocated for individual victims of domestic violence through court proceedings and availed himself to assist community members in risky situations to help them navigate through processes such as restraining order procedures. He has spoken publicly in a variety of forums to share his story and to educate as many people as possible about domestic violence.

 

Karen Dalton
Dare to Dream Ranch

Karen is the founder and president of the Dare to Dream Ranch, a nonprofit organization dedicating to helping veterans overcome their current situations by providing a multi-faceted therapeutic equine program. Veterans that are struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have the opportunity to join this program to help them to overcome the disorder and return to civilian life. Veterans are able to form a mental bond with the horses in a way that is very therapeutic and allows them to gain a greater insight into themselves. Karen and her fellow volunteers also provide cooking classes, massage therapy, hypnotherapy, reflexology and other programs to support veterans. Through the Dare to Dream Ranch, homeless and at risk veterans overcome their current situations, find their passions and become successful civilians.

Kelvin Ing
Cape Cod Challenger Club

After noticing a lack of athletic and recreational programming, Kelvin and his wife founded the Cape Cod Challenger Club in 2005 to provide athletic opportunities for children with cognitive, developmental and/or physical disabilities. In the beginning, activities were held at various fields and venues across Cape Cod. Kelvin began working with the town of Barnstable and was able to find a home for the Cape Cod Challenger Club to host their programs. He even helped to renovate the space that now includes baseball fields, a cafeteria, gymnasium, a walking track and staging for various events. Throughout the year, the Cape Cod Challenger Club offers arts and crafts, baseball, basketball, bowling, martial arts, music programming, soccer and much more. This organization would not have been possible without Kelvin’s vision and dedication. While he is responsible for many roles as the founder of the organization, his favorite position is “Coach.”  
 

Lynnel Silva-Cox
Hand Delivered Hope

Addiction is a family disease that often leads to homelessness, forcing families to live in the dark corners of stigma and shame. In October of 2014, after battling addiction for 7 years with her son, Lynnel organized a group of battling mothers. Together they began walking the streets of Boston with their hearts full of hope and bags filled with items of comfort and nutrition targeting those who lived in the grips of addiction, calling the streets home. The first delivery was very small but the need was immense. The organization grew very quickly and to date has over 150 volunteers, many living in recovery giving back what they have received. Hand Delivered Hope was born, from a pure, shameless love Lynnel carries not only for her son but all sons and daughters who are struggling or have struggled with addiction. Deliveries are made throughout key areas in Boston as well as surrounding cities and towns. She has personally visited and researched countless treatment facilities and sober living programs both in and out of Massachusetts to establish reciprocal relationships with them and to assess the programs' unique qualities. Deliveries are also made to sober living houses and programs to help people maintain sobriety. Lynnel organizes and attends every delivery. Lynnel has recognized the need to deliver hope and education out into the communities. Lynnel has been the guest speaker at many colleges, highschools and churches. Recently, Lynnel started guest lecturing to police officers earning their masters' degrees at Curry College to help them work more effectively with those impacted with addiction. Hand Delivered Hope's philosophy and practices were then incorporated into the capstone project at Curry College. Hand Delivered Hope volunteers, led by Lynnel, have positively impacted more than 2,500 people. Hand Delivered Hope operates on 100% volunteerism and private donations receiving no public funding or grant monies. 

Dr. Brian Skotko
Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress

Having grown up with a sister with Down Syndrome, Brian wanted to help make the world a better place for those born with the condition. He has spent the past 12-plus years volunteering for the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress and has used his medical degree to conduct presentations at medical students trainings and genetic counselor meetings. Brian has trained more than 1,000 medical providers across the state, sharing leading-edge information with hospitals and doctors. He has become one of the nation's preeminent advocates for Down Syndrome and has been instrumental in shaping legislation to make life easier for those living with the condition. No matter how busy Brian is with his career, volunteerism remains a central part of his life as he continues to tackle public misconceptions for people living with Down Syndrome. 

Heather Mullin
Joanna's Place

Heather co-founded Joanna's Place in 2008 after her daughter Joanna was murdered by an intruder. The therapeutic and community support that Heather received following Joanna's death led her to vow that she would do whatever she could to help other families dealing with crises, especially those related to loss. Heather and her team of volunteers coordinate fundraising events throughout the year to raise money for a memorial scholarship and to fund programs that help families experiencing serious life challenges. She has gathered experts in the field of education, medicine, psychology and more to help serve more than 20 communities in the south shore of Massachusetts. Her personal passion is evident and she engages in activities that are out of her comfort zone – such as being interviewed, videotaped or giving a speech – because she knows that seeing a grieving mom overcome a tragedy can truly spur others to action.

To view the 2015 Celebrate Volunteerism initiative, click here