FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (Nov. 6, 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."
Donna Fessler from Wellesley, Mass. was selected as a 2020 Patriots Difference Maker of the Week for her commitment to Women's Lunch Place in Boston. As part of this recognition, the Kraft family and the New England Patriots Foundation will be making a $5,000 donation to the nonprofit organization.
Women's Lunch Place is a safe, welcoming day shelter community, providing nutritious food and individualized services for women who are experiencing homelessness or poverty. They are dedicated to meeting their guests where they are and treat them with dignity and respect.
For the past 12 years, Donna has gone above and beyond as a volunteer at the Women's Lunch Place. She was introduced through a mutual friend and instantly fell in love with the nonprofit's mission. Donna has volunteered in their kitchen, preparing and serving meals to women experiencing homelessness. She has helped in their welcome center, greeting guests and helping them find the resources they need to self-advocate. Donna has also served on various fundraising committees and recruited dozens of volunteers.
"The ability to serve the beautiful ladies of Women's Lunch Place is an ongoing gift to my heart," said Donna. "It's a blessing to witness the positive, life altering impact Women's Lunch Place makes in the lives of vulnerable women and children experiencing homelessness."
Back in March when the pandemic spread across the country, she began volunteering for the nonprofit's Back-door Meal program which brings prepared food to shelters that were unable to keep up with the demand for food. She helped with their mobile food pantry program by delivering meals and pantry items to individuals who were sheltering in place in temporary housing.
Donna also led the effort to bring the Mask Makers Group to Women's Lunch Place. She and other mask makers donated time and materials to sew and donate masks to women living on the street. Thanks to her and the other mask makers, thousands of masks have been distributed to those in need.
"Women's Lunch Place an open door of welcome to a peaceful place," said Donna. "Clients receive a delicious, nutritious meal served with a smile by our legion of gracious volunteers. Mentoring and housing advocate services along with our new outreach meal programs all provide hope, a sense of self-worth and simple dignity to those who need it most. None of this great work would be possible without the ongoing support of our incredible community of loyal sponsors including the Kraft family and the Patriots organization."
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.