FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (Nov. 27, 2019) – Nine 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 and alumni have donated tens of thousands of hours to giving back to their New England communities. During their weekly off day, Patriots players volunteer throughout New England to support children and families in need. Patriots season ticket members have also teamed with Patriots players to better their communities.
Throughout the 2019 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.
"Volunteerism is at the heart of giving back and bettering our communities," said Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft. "We will continue to honor and thank the many deserving volunteers in our region that are often not recognized for their valuable contributions. Through this Celebrate Volunteerism initiative, we hope to inspire Patriots fans to make a difference and become lifelong volunteers."
DeAnne Dupont from Arlington, Mass. was selected as a 2019 Patriots Difference Maker of the Week for her commitment to Food Link, Inc.
In 2012, DeAnne and Julie Kremer co-founded Food Link, when they were at a local café and witnessed employees throwing away bread at the end of the day. DeAnne and Julie offered to take the bread to a local low-income senior housing facility, and just like that, Food Link was born.
As the co-founder, president of the board of directors and executive director of Food Link, DeAnne has been instrumental in building a food rescue organization that has seen tremendous growth in recent years. The nonprofit collects food from 26 different food donors, grocers, wholesalers, retailers and local farms. The food is then distributed to 46 different social service agencies in 15 local communities. The nonprofit is open seven days a week, 363 days a year and has become a go-to organization for food donors and recipients alike.
"I am deeply honored to receive this Patriots Difference Maker of the Week award," said DeAnne. "Julie Kremer and I started Food Link seven years ago with a commitment to keeping fresh, nutritious food from being wasted while people were going hungry. Additionally, we wanted to prioritize bringing food to people, with dignity, by taking the food to places where they already live, learn, congregate and play."
DeAnne and her team of more than 200 volunteers are committed to providing low-income and at-risk children and families with access to fresh, healthy foods. This past year, the nonprofit rescued more than 550,000 pounds of food and helped more than 18,000 people.
"Food Link sits at the intersection of two issues I care deeply about – hunger and food waste," said DeAnne. "I am proud that our team of dedicated volunteers will save from waste enough food to provide 500,000 meals in 2019."
DeAnne volunteers more than 40 hours a week at Food Link. She recruits and manages volunteers, represents the organization at civic events, manages finances and actively fundraises throughout the year. DeAnne works directly with individual donors and foundations, sharing the importance of the nonprofit and encouraging them to support Food Link's efforts. She is currently working on a capital campaign to open a new home for the nonprofit. The new facility will more than triple the nonprofit's impact in the community.
In addition to the 40 plus hours a week that DeAnne donates to Food Link, she continues to volunteer with other organizations in and outside of her community. She is actively involved with Sustainable Arlington, promoting climate stabilization and ways to support the environment. DeAnne also manages community collections, serves as a town meeting member and is the treasurer of an assisted living facility.
"Though we started small in Arlington, Food Link has grown beyond our wildest dreams, and we are now providing food in communities all over eastern Massachusetts," said DeAnne. "This award, although given to me, is truly a recognition of the whole Food Link community, including Julie, our volunteers and staff, and the recipient agencies that distribute the food to individuals in need."
Fifteen individuals will be named Patriots Difference Makers throughout the season. The outstanding volunteers will be recognized on the Patriots website and will be honored during a special ceremony at the Patriots final regular season home game against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, December 29.
Fans are encouraged to nominate a local volunteer for the Patriots Difference Maker of the Week award by visiting www.patriots.com/community.