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Patriots Foundation donates $275,000 in the names of Myra Kraft Community MVP Award winners

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Every year since 1998, the Kraft family and the New England Patriots have been celebrating those who give their time to help others. The program was originally known as the Community Quarterback Awards and were presented to those who exemplify leadership, dedication and a commitment to improving their communities through volunteerism.

In 2011, the awards were renamed in honor of the late Myra Kraft who committed her life to volunteering. As part of the New England Patriots Foundation’s ongoing Celebrate Volunteerism initiative, the Kraft family hosts a special luncheon each year to show their appreciation for local volunteers.

On Tuesday, Aug. 20, 26 volunteers were recognized for their contributions at an awards ceremony at Gillette Stadium. Twenty-five organizations received grants of $10,000 in honor of their outstanding volunteers and one grand prize winner received a surprise $25,000 donation.

On hand to congratulate the award winners were Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft, New England Patriots Foundation President Joshua Kraft and Patriots and Pro Football Hall of Famer and Patriots Executive Director of Community Affairs Andre Tippett.

“This event has always been one of my favorites because it not only highlights the organization that is positively impacting the lives of others in our communities, but it also allows us to shine a spotlight on each organization’s most-deserving volunteer,” said Robert Kraft. “The stories describing the many volunteers who are nominated each year are inspirational. They serve as a reminder of how much good there really is in the world and how committed some people are to making their community a better place.”

Jillian Tsiplakis of Salisbury, Mass. was selected as this year’s $25,000 grand prize winner for her volunteer efforts at Stepping Stones Family Services in Haverhill, Mass.

Patriots Chairman and CEO **Robert Kraft** and Patriots and Pro Football Hall of Famer **Andre Tippett** congratulate **Jillian Tsiplakis** from **Stepping Stones Family Services** for being selected as the 2019 Myra Kraft Community MVP Award grand prize winner. During the August 20 luncheon, the Kraft family and the New England Patriots Foundation awarded $275,000 in grants to 26 New England nonprofits. Stepping Stones Family Services received a $25,000 grant in honor of Jillian’s volunteer efforts.
Patriots Chairman and CEO **Robert Kraft** and Patriots and Pro Football Hall of Famer **Andre Tippett** congratulate **Jillian Tsiplakis** from **Stepping Stones Family Services** for being selected as the 2019 Myra Kraft Community MVP Award grand prize winner. During the August 20 luncheon, the Kraft family and the New England Patriots Foundation awarded $275,000 in grants to 26 New England nonprofits. Stepping Stones Family Services received a $25,000 grant in honor of Jillian’s volunteer efforts.

Jillian has committed most of her life to volunteering. In elementary school, she created a recycling program at her grandparents housing facility, while also starting a program that delivers groceries to seniors who could not drive. After college, Jillian joined the military. While in Afghanistan, she discovered that literacy rates in her province were less than two percent. She then started a radio literacy program that featured traditional Afghan folklore stories with page turn signals. Jillian went on more than 30 missions to hand out books and solar power radios to women and children. She also helped to open two middle schools in the province.

“Learning of the alarming 2% literacy rate in the province, I knew I had to do something to help change that,” said Jillian.

“This was the first time in my life that I realized through hard work and determination I could do anything I set my mind to.”

Jillian was injured during her time in Afghanistan and while she lives on disability, she doesn’t let that stop her from giving back to the community. She currently serves as the director of Stepping Stones Family Services, which provides child care items to low income families in the Lawrence area. The nonprofit also assists with job searches, offers tutoring sessions and provides emergency services.

Last year, following the gas explosions in the Merrimack Valley, she jumped in to help as many families as possible. Within a month, Jillian went from serving eight families to more than 250 families. She even took out $4,000 of her own personal savings to help provide essential items for families in need.

Jillian dedicates more than 50 hours a week to Stepping Stones. In addition to the donations provided to families, Jillian hosts Stepping Stones Family Gathering, a twice monthly event for moms in need to learn more about services offered, speak with child development specialists, make connections with one another, participate in free child care/healthy family classes and shop their free family closet.

She also implemented a Mommy Moolah work program, which hires moms to work for her part time. This program helps to improve their workforce skills while ensuring families get back on their feet. Thanks to Jillian’s leadership, Stepping Stones Family Services will soon open a family home, allowing homeless mothers to live with them for up to two years while pursuing a college degree, trade school or on the job training.

“The security this grant provides will help ensure we are able to keep our office open, keep babies in clean diapers, provide training to families in need and continue with our monthly outreach programs,” said Jillian. “This award means everything to me and to the families at Stepping Stones Family Services. I am grateful beyond words for the opportunities we will be afforded thanks to the Myra Kraft Community MVP Award.”

The 2019 Myra Kraft Community MVP winners range from 14 to 76 years old and represent every New England state. The selected nonprofits provide support for many causes, including education, domestic violence prevention, healthcare, homelessness, mentoring and military support. The Kraft family and the New England Patriots Foundation received more than 350 applications this year from nonprofit organizations looking to recognize their outstanding volunteers. Nominations open each spring and the awards are open to all nonprofit organizations in the New England region. For more information on the Myra Kraft Community MVP Awards, please visit www.patriots.com/community.

Patriots Chairman and CEO **Robert Kraft**, President of the New England Patriots Foundation **Josh Kraft** and Patriots and Pro Football Hall of Famer **Andre Tippett** smiled for a photo with all 26 Myra Kraft Community MVP Award winners at Gillette Stadium. The 26 volunteer winners range from 14 to 76 years old and represent every New England state. Winning nonprofits provide support for many causes, including education, domestic violence prevention, healthcare, homelessness, mentoring and military support.
Patriots Chairman and CEO **Robert Kraft**, President of the New England Patriots Foundation **Josh Kraft** and Patriots and Pro Football Hall of Famer **Andre Tippett** smiled for a photo with all 26 Myra Kraft Community MVP Award winners at Gillette Stadium. The 26 volunteer winners range from 14 to 76 years old and represent every New England state. Winning nonprofits provide support for many causes, including education, domestic violence prevention, healthcare, homelessness, mentoring and military support.

*Below is a complete list of the 2019 Myra Kraft Community MVP Award Winners:      *

$25,000 Grand Prize Winner

Table inside Article
First and Last Name Hometown Organization Organization Town
Jillian Tsiplakis Salisbury, Mass. Stepping Stones Family Services Haverhill, Mass.

$10,000 Award Winners

Table inside Article
First and Last Name Hometown Organization Organization Town
Sandra Aleman-Nijar East Boston, Mass. East Boston Soup Kitchen East Boston, Mass.
Richard Bachand Newington, Conn. New Britain Brawlers Newington, Conn.
Georgina Bogert Manchester, N.H. Manchester Police Athletic League Manchester, N.H.
Esta Cohen East Greenwich, R.I. Dress for Success Providence Providence, R.I.
Jason D’Amico Freeeport, Maine Maine Boys to Men Falmouth, Maine
Tammy de la Cruz Groton, Conn. Community Speaks Out Groton, Conn.
Timothy Flanigan Tiverton, R.I. Star Kids Scholarship Program Middletown, R.I.
James Flatley Cambridge, Mass. One Summit N. Andover, Mass.
Alexander Galinelli Warren, R.I. Central Fire Company Warren, R.I.
Amanda Gonzales Marblehead, Mass Plummer Youth Promise Salem, Mass.
Noelle Gregoire Haverhill, Mass. Laps 4 Backs Haverhill, Mass.
Edward Ithier Hookset, N.H. Webster House Manchester, N.H.
Kristen Johnson Dunbarton, N.H. Bethany Christian Services Candia, N.H.
Sesay Johnson Bellingham, Mass. GrowHope Foundation Brockton, Mass
Elizabeth Keeling Taunton, Mass. Families for Depression Awareness Waltham, Mass.
Noelle Lambert Manchester, N.H. Born to Run Foundation Medfield, Mass.
Kelly Ohlrich Jamaica Plain, Mass. The Sharewood Project at Tufts Malden, Mass.
Scott Paganelli Georgetown, Mass. Family Services of the Merrimack Valley Lawrence, Mass.
Douglas Phillips Woodstock, Vt. Zach’s Place Enrichment Center Woodstock, Vt.
Felicia Puadano Danbury, Conn. Women’s Center of Greater Danbury Danbury, Conn.
Steven Roy Bridgewater, Mass. Comfort Zone Camp Bridgewater, Mass.
Jerome Shanahan Concord, Mass. Salute Military Golf Association Concord, Mass.
Therese Stafford Coventry, R.I. Women & Infants Hospital Providence, R.I.
Jillian Tsiplakis Salisbury, Mass. Stepping Stones Family Services Haverhill, Mass.
Thelma Velasquez Lynn, Mass. Lynn Economic Opportunity Lynn, Mass.
Brenda Venice Fall River, Mass. National Alliance on Mental Illness Fall River, Mass.

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