VOLUNTEERISM

The Patriots will continue to Celebrate Volunteerism in 2019

The Celebrate Volunteerism initiative aims to share examples of dedicated volunteers, build awareness of the need for volunteering, identify and educate others about volunteer opportunities and inspire New Englanders to follow the Kraft family's example of becoming lifelong volunteers.

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Throughout the season, the Kraft family and New England Patriots Foundation will celebrate volunteers that work tirelessly to support children and families in need throughout the New England region, while also encouraging Patriots fans to get involved in their communities.

Each week, the Kraft family and Foundation recognizes one outstanding volunteer as the "Patriots Difference Maker of the Week." Fifteen outstanding volunteers will be named as a Patriots Difference Maker of the Week. They will each be featured on our website and they will be recognized at the Patriots final regular season home game against the Miami Dolphins on December 29.

During the players one day off, they are giving back as part of Patriots Community Tuesdays. Current and former Patriots players will interact with children and families each week and speak about the importance of volunteering. Former Patriots players, Patriots cheerleaders, Pat Patriot and families of Patriots players and coaches will also be actively involved in the Celebrate Volunteerism initiative throughout the season.

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The Kraft family and Foundation encourage all Patriots fans to join us by nominating an individual for the “Patriots Difference Maker of the Week award, making a donation to our coat and toy drives or by volunteering in their local communities. As part of the NFL’s Huddle for 100, we encourage all of our fans to log their volunteer hours here: Huddle for 100

Be sure to check back here throughout the season for the most up to date information on the Celebrate Volunteerism initiative.

2019 Difference Makers of the Week

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Brent Mullen and Keith Nguyen

New England Center and Home for Veterans

Brent and Keith are senior dental students at the Tufts University School of Dental Medicine. They both served in the United States Army and are veterans of the War in Iraq. They are co-presidents of the Tufts Dental Health Professional Scholarship club military club and both plan on returning to the army as dentists following their 2020 graduation.Brent is originally from Evansville, Indiana and Keith is from Denton, Texas. Upon arriving in Boston in the fall of 2016, Brent and Keith started volunteering at the New England Center and Home for Veterans where they serve meals to veterans. Together, they decided to combine their education with their interest in serving veterans and created the Service with a Smile project. The goal of the project is to connect all homeless veterans to a dental home for comprehensive oral health care. Twice a month, they provide oral health services to homeless veterans. Services include oral cancer screenings, oral health education and referral services. Brent and Keith also provide veterans with oral hygiene supplies and have gotten their classmates and faculty involved in the project. They advocate for the health of homeless veterans while providing access to exams, cleanings, new dentures and cavity fillings.Brent and Keith have also participated in the Boston Marathon Ruck March over the past two years. The event takes place the day before the Boston Marathon and participants travel 26.2 miles while carrying at least 15 pounds worth of weight to honor fallen soldiers. Brent and Keith organized a team and decided to carry bags of rice, beans and other items that could be donated to the New England Center and Home for Veterans. Over the past two years, their team has donated 1,750 pounds of food to the nonprofit, while raising nearly $40,000 to help veterans and their families in times of need.

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Jocelyn Cook

SPUR – Marblehead, Mass

Five years ago, Jocelyn created SPUR, whose mission is to cultivate a “Community of Doers” by providing an array of multi-generational volunteer opportunities and youth enrichment programs which "spur" participants to strengthen communities and improve lives of individuals and families in Lynn, Marblehead, Salem and Swampscott. Under her leadership, SPUR organizes a variety of engagement activities from large-scale day of service events to regular monthly and weekly opportunities. Examples of such are multi-town beach cleanups, serving meals at local shelters, preparing personal hygiene kits, installing and managing a garden which grows fresh produce for local food pantries, and rescuing food from local marketplaces and redirecting to individuals facing food insecurity. The nonprofit also supports hundreds of local children annually by providing new backpacks with school supplies and gifts at the holidays, as well as runs youth specific programming aimed at engaging the youngest members of our community in age appropriate conversations around community, stewardship, social action and philanthropy. Jocelyn exemplifies the qualities of integrity, compassion and commitment to the community. Last year, she led more than 2,500 volunteers and totaled more than 5,000 volunteer hours. Jocelyn exudes unstoppable energy and passion about engaging community members in spurring good deeds. She is creative, selfless and pours all of her into building a community of doers.

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Bryan McDavitt

Camp Rising Sun - Branford, Conn.

Camp Rising Sun is a nonprofit organization based in Branford, Conn. that provides an overnight camping experience for children ages five to 17 who have faced a diagnosis of cancer. Children that are diagnosed with cancer have a tough road. In addition to the physical challenges they encounter, they often fall behind at school, experience low self-esteem and lack confidence. Camp tries to give some of that back. It gives them an opportunity to succeed at new activities while also getting to know other campers who can relate to what they’re going through. Bryan has been volunteering at Camp Rising Sun since 2011. He started as a cabin staff member in their senior cabin. In this role, he built meaningful relationships with the campers while managing late nights, camp pranks, homesickness and seeing that the medical needs of all campers are met. Now serving as a head counselor, Bryan handles these same responsibilities, in addition to planning the daily activities for the cabin, leading and evaluating cabin staff and is the key person overseeing the safety and discipline of his campers. Parents remark how much their child has changed after attending camp. Much of that positive change can be attributed to counselors, like Bryan. He is creative, energetic and always knows how to make the campers smile. He is well-liked by all campers and staff and plays an instrumental role in positively impacting children that are diagnosed with cancer.

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José Valenzuela

Boston Youth Wrestling – Boston, Mass.

As a young boy of color growing up in Boston, José experienced low self-esteem, was underachieving in school and found himself heading down the wrong path. Then he discovered wrestling, which provided him with confidence, guidance and mentorship. Now, as a Boston Public Schools teacher, José shares his passion for wrestling with Boston-area youth. In 2012, he founded Boston Youth Wrestling to help teach youth to successfully overcome socio-economic challenges that lead to educational gaps, poor health and negative community relationships. These challenges also impart skills such as self-reliance, discipline and commitment to others that apply both on and off the mat, in school and beyond. José dedicates every spare moment to Boston Youth Wrestling and thanks to his leadership, this program has grown tremendously. Since its inception, he has positively engaged 3,500 youth as a coach, mentor and president for the organization. More than 500 youth from Boston, Chelsea and Lynn are currently enrolled in 17 different program sites throughout the school year. The programs serve a wide range of students, teaching them confidence, self-control and sportsmanship, while also providing them with a positive outlook on health and fitness. José has implemented a variety of youth development programs that have shown a significant impact both on and off the mat. The Evolve program at Boston Youth Wrestling offers a 12-17 week curriculum that combines wrestling with academic skill development and college and career exploration. Amongst Boston Youth Wrestling participants, there has been an 80 percent increase in graduation rates and a 75 percent decrease in dropout rates.

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Gwen Taylor and Jeff Lindy

Hospitality Homes

Every year more than 250,000 patients and their families travel to Boston to access the leading-edge medical care. Unfortunately, Boston also has some of the highest hotel and rental costs in the nation, with limited vacancy. Patients and families who have to be in Boston for life-saving treatment are often left on their own to find lodging when hospital housing or insurance reimbursement are not available. Hospitality Homes provides no-cost, short-term housing in volunteer host homes and in donated apartments to families and loved ones of patients seeking care at Boston-area healthcare centers. Since 2015, Gwen and Jeff have been volunteer hosts, providing a "home-away-from home" and a Boston-area family experience for many of these patients who are dealing with serious medical illnesses. Over the past four years, Gwen and Jeff have opened their home to more than 35 families for more than 1,000 nights of free housing. Most of their guests have traveled long distances, including internationally, and many guests have been young parents with babies who know that the only place in the world to treat their loved one is at Boston-area hospitals. In addition to hosting families, Gwen and Jeff serve on the Host Community Advisory Board, a leadership team of volunteers who help build the program, train volunteers, offer support to new volunteers and evaluate how the program is successful. Gwen and Jeff share their story whenever they can to help recruit new volunteers and to show others how they can make a difference.

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