FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (Jan. 1, 2021) – 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."
Diane Nadeau from Mansfield, Conn. was selected as a 2020 Patriots Difference Maker of the Week for her commitment to the Windham Chamber Foundation. 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.
Back in March, as the pandemic led to business closures in the state of Connecticut, Diane was laid off as the CEO of the Windham Region Chamber of Commerce. Despite losing her job, she remained committed to the cause, volunteering tirelessly for the Windham Chamber Foundation to support businesses across the state.
Diane has provided one-on-one coaching and support to people filing for unemployment, answering questions about business loans and deciphering which programs will support self-employed and contract workers. This includes sharing information on emergency paid sick leave, the CARES Act, PPP loans, employee rights and IRS filing.
She provides daily and weekly newsletter updates on state and federal programs, including loans, resources and unemployment. Diane has hosted webinars with COVID-19 content experts, elected officials and business development specials. She has worked with individual businesses to help them develop their own customized reopening plans and provided virtual business development to individual employees and business leaders.
"It is an honor and surprise to be recognized by the Kraft family and the Patriots Foundation as a Patriots Difference Maker," said Diane. "When the pandemic hit, I just kept doing what was needed. I was doing things I thought of as little things. A simple act of kindness like delivering a ham, or getting an iPad donated could actually end up saving a life."
Diane has also communicated ways that citizens can get involved and help families in need. She has identified the needs of community kitchens, promoted volunteer opportunities and helped to funnel donations to charitable organizations. Her leadership continues to inspire other chamber volunteers and business owners alike. Together, they are developing future programs to sustain the business community in a post-COVID era.
"Anyone can make a difference, all you have to do is try," said Diane. "I love my community and the people who live and work here, so it is easy to volunteer when it's the right thing to 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.