FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (Sept. 23, 2021) – Throughout the 2021 season, the Kraft family and the New England Patriots Foundation will recognize 17 local volunteers with the "Patriots Difference Maker of the Week Award." The honorees will be celebrated for going above and beyond to support nonprofit organizations in our New England communities.
As part of this recognition, the foundation will present a $5,000 donation to the nonprofit organization represented by each honoree. The Patriots Difference Makers will participate in a special year-end celebration and receive a pair of tickets to attend the Patriots final regular season home game on Jan. 2 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
"We are excited to once again recognize local volunteers with our Patriots Difference Maker of the Week Award," said Josh Kraft, president, New England Patriots Foundation. "Each of these honorees has their own unique story of community service and we are proud to shine a light on the tremendous work they are doing. We would like to thank all of this year's Patriots Difference Makers for helping to build stronger New England communities."
Deborah Antanavica from Cherry Valley, Mass. was selected as a 2021 Patriots Difference Maker of the Week for her commitment to Deja New Leicester. As part of this recognition, the Kraft family and the New England Patriots Foundation will be making a $5,000 donation to support the nonprofit.
Deja New Leicester is a nonprofit organization, led by a group of volunteers dedicated to improving the quality of life for local families. Having grown up in Leicester, Deborah co-founded the organization as a way to give back to neighbors in need.
The nonprofit assists families during emergencies, pays household bills for families in crisis and lends medical equipment not covered by insurance. They also sponsor targeted fundraisers for one-time necessities and provide students with internships focused around service and vocational skills.
As a co-founder and the secretary and clerk for the board of directors, Deborah wears many hats for the organization. Together with the Board of Directors, she develops the annual strategic plan, manages the budget and oversees Deja New's unique marketplace where they sell new and gently used furniture, home décor, toys and more. Thanks to her leadership, Deja New has purchased a wheelchair-accessible van for a child in need, helped purchase a seizure alert dog for a child with epilepsy, and much more.
In addition to her efforts at Deja New, Deborah is the founder and president of Leicester Hearts for Heat, helping to provide heat to more than 100 families each winter. She informs residents on how to apply for fuel assistance, reviews all of the applications to ensure that they meet the criteria for receiving aid, approves applications based on responses, manages the budget, and raises funds by doing targeted fundraisers. During the height of the pandemic, demand increased significantly, but due to Deb's diligence, she earned and saved enough money to help everyone in need.
When asked why she co-formed Deja New, Deborah responded, "Because it needed to be done. I believe that we need to do what we can to help the people in our community and not wait and hope that someone else will do it."
The Patriots Difference Maker of the Week Award is part of the foundation's Celebrate Volunteerism initiative, designed to educate fans about the need for volunteering, highlight deserving volunteers from across the region and inspire Patriots fans to become lifelong volunteers.
This marks the 11th season that the Kraft family and the Patriots Foundation has presented their Patriots Difference Maker of the Week Award to volunteers from all across New England. Since its inception, 150 individuals have received this award and more than $675,000 has been donated to local nonprofit organizations.
To learn more about the program or to nominate a volunteer for the Patriots Difference Maker of the Week Award, visit www.patriots.com/community.