FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (Dec 4, 2020) – Ten years ago, the Kraft family and the New England Patriots Foundation introduced a season-long theme called Celebrate Volunteerism. The main focus of the initiative was to recognize community volunteers and to promote the importance of volunteering. Since its inception, New England Patriots players, coaches, alumni, cheerleaders and fans have donated hundreds of thousands of hours to giving back to their New England communities.
Throughout the 2020 season, the foundation will continue its Celebrate Volunteerism initiative by teaming with nonprofit organizations to educate fans about the need for volunteering, highlighting deserving volunteers from across the region and seeking to inspire Patriots fans to become lifelong volunteers. The foundation will present a weekly "Patriots Difference Maker of the Week" award, which recognizes deserving volunteers who go above and beyond to support their New England communities.
"This has been a challenging year, unlike anything we've experienced in our lifetimes," said Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft. "Charitable organizations have been called upon to support more children and families than ever before. We admire all of the hardworking volunteers that have stepped up and helped these nonprofits to continue to serve those in need. Through this Celebrate Volunteerism initiative, we will shine a light on some of these outstanding volunteers, make a donation to their respective charity and encourage our fans to get involved."
Barbara Gillmeister from Wrentham, Mass. was selected as a 2020 Patriots Difference Maker of the Week for her commitment to Gilly's House. As part of this recognition, the Kraft family and the New England Patriots Foundation will be making a $5,000 donation to the nonprofit.
In October of 2016, Steven "Gilly" Gillmeister lost his long battle with addiction. Within six months of Steven's passing, his parents – Barbara and David – purchased a residential home for young men in recovery. Gilly's House is a sober home for young men in the early stages of recovery. It offers a stable, structured and supportive environment to achieve personal goals while attaining the transitional life skills necessary to reintegrate into community life. With a capacity to serve 22 men, the nonprofit provides a structured environment with 24-hour staffing.
The daily structured schedule reinforces a lifestyle free of alcohol and drug use. Transitional life skills including healthy living, social services, career exploration, personal finance and self-help groups, along with an opportunity for counseling and 12 Step group meetings, is integral to the success of this program. They prepare men to reenter life with a positive step forward and with the personal skills and community connections to continue to meet individual goals and live a successful life of sobriety.
As co-founder and executive director of Gilly's House, Barbara is dedicated to making sure the men receive the proper resources to get their lives back in order. She guides them in the recovery process, helping them to connect with the community through volunteer work, seek out and secure jobs, navigate through the legal process and secure appropriate healthcare services.
Barbara hires all staff members, gathers supplies for the home, organizes fundraisers and handles administrative work. She also consults with other sober homes, speaks to local community groups and schools and attends community events and seminars to promote sober living. She does this all without receiving any compensation.
Recognizing that addiction is a family illness, Barbara has instituted Supper with Siblings, a support group for individuals who either lost a sibling or currently have a sibling that is struggling with addiction. She also created a parents network to keep all families connected and to further strengthen their support circles. Families seeking more information about the program are encouraged to visit their website www.gillyshouse.com.
"Never underestimate the power of what you think is a small deed you could do for someone," said Barbara. "You always have the ability to make a positive impact on someone's life. Be passionate about what you do."
The Kraft family and the New England Patriots Foundation encourage fans to show their support for local charitable organizations and to nominate a volunteer for the Patriots Difference Maker of the Week Award. To get involved, visit www.patriots.com/community.