When Kyle Van Noy re-signed with the Patriots this offseason, it wasn't just a chance to get back to work on the football field in Foxborough. A return to New England means getting reacquainted with an already established off-the-field mission. Over his first four-season stint with the Patriots, Van Noy dedicated himself to working with kids and families in the foster care system.
Having been in New England the longest of any region in his career, Van Noy and his wife Marissa got to know this particular community well. They regularly provided unique experiences for kids in foster care, like movie premieres and their annual Christmas tree giveaway. They listened to their stories, shared in their joy and created a community for people in and adjacent to the foster care system to feel seen.
It shouldn't be a surprise that the Patriots 2019 Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee wasted no time jumping back into it, hosting a fundraising event for his Van Noy Valor Foundation on June 3.
The Van Noys were only away for a year, but their first event since re-signing brought out emotion and a recommitment to this work.
"I'm so hungry to do more. I know what I left for a year. There was so much still to do. I thought what better way than when things get ready to go than to jump right in ... We're just excited to help out at the end of the day," Van Noy said.
Part of that hunger means doing even more, like their Valiant Knights Program. This initiative puts the focus on kids who are aging out of the foster care system and offering them scholarships and paid internships in Boston. It's something they were able to kickoff for 2021 because of the strong support they have built up in the area.
"A lot of young adults have been bouncing from place to place when they don't really have anything stable," Marissa Van Noy said. "When they age out of the system, they're left on the streets with the clothes on their back and have limited resources. That was a big thing for us, finding the needs. That is a need. That's one of the needs for the older generation. So we're trying to help with that and give them a foot in the door."
While the Valiant Knight Program is a new offering, the annual Christmas Tree Giveaway has become a signature event for the foundation. The Knights of Luxury event raised more than $125,000 for the December celebration, which provides trees, decorations, gifts and winter clothing to local foster kids and families.
"We're just trying to take that on another level," Van Noy said. "It's giving chances to kids, and it's changing someone's whole generation forever."
The response to Van Noy's return to the Patriots was two-fold. Yes, he wants to make a bigger impact on the game, but he and Marissa will be pushing to do even more with the Van Noy Valor Foundation this time around. To know that fans and those they worked with were just as excited to have them back meant a great deal.
"It means a lot. It means that I had an impact on the field and off the field. I'm just going to continue to be myself and I think that's what fans, what coaches, what everybody loves and enjoys about me ... I have goals and dreams to one day potentially get my red coat like many of my other teammates are going to have," he said. "I think I have a chance to do that. I'm excited to be able to do that with the best fans in the world and the best support system in the world, and then off the field, have the best foundation and support system. To be able to make an impact that goes further than myself and football, I couldn't be happier and more proud."