FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (Nov. 28, 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."
Greg Chastain from Winchester, Mass. was selected as a 2020 Patriots Difference Maker of the Week for his commitment to Voices of Hope. As part of this recognition, the Kraft family and the New England Patriots Foundation will be making a $5,000 donation to the Boston-based nonprofit.
Eleven years ago, Greg lost his mother to pancreatic cancer. She was passionate about theater and as a tribute, Greg put together a concert to honor his mother, while also raising money for cancer research. In just one night, Greg managed to raise $17,000 and with that performance, Voices of Hope was born.
"I started this as a one-night give back to those who had worked so hard to save my mom," said Greg. "But I soon found a large community who shared in my grief and understood how devastating cancer is to families. I had no idea how large this organization would become."
Inspired by early success, Greg made the decision to leave his job in finance and dedicate his efforts full time to growing Voices of Hope. As president and founder, his efforts include securing sponsors, reviewing performance requests, evaluating potential performance venues, maintaining communication with the Voices of Hope members and more. The nonprofit hosts two major stage performances each year along with performance at the Boston Hatch Shell, holiday performances and singing the National Anthem at sporting events.
Since 2009, the nonprofit has donated more than $780,000 to cancer research, including the Termeer Center for Targeted Therapies at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center. A pioneer in personalized cancer medicines, the Termeer Center offers a comprehensive translational research program to speed the discovery and delivery of new targeted therapies to patients with early and advanced stage cancers. Patients in the Termeer Center are matched with a small, but dynamic clinical team, whose expertise supports both advances in research and excellence in supportive patient care.
With live performances halted due to COVID-19, Greg rallied his members to record and submit video recordings of songs which were produced as a series of "virtual cabarets" which were privately shared with caregivers and patients receiving treatment at the Termeer Center. Members also wrote notes of thanks and appreciation to the frontline workers at the Termeer Center, and extended prayers and support to a member of the community who was struck down by the virus. In the spring, Greg was successful in securing a donation which allowed their rehearsal studio (the Nest) to be reconfigured with plexi-glass enclosures to allow a small number of members to safely record in an effort to continue the mission of raising funds for cancer research.
"I may have sparked the vision, but we are successful due to those who have joined us on this journey," said Greg. "They are all volunteers who donate their time and talent to the mission. We are truly a family who care and love for one another and I am so very thankful for my Voices of Hope family. I personally could never have done this without the love and support of my wife Jean and daughter Gabi. They are the rudder who guide me through every day."
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.