FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (Sept. 18, 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."
To kick off this season's Celebrate Volunteerism campaign, Gwen Taylor and Jeff Lindy from Brookline, Mass. were selected as the first 2019 Patriots Difference Makers of the Week for their commitment to Hospitality Homes.
Every year more than 250,000 patients and their families travel to Boston to access the leading-edge medical care. Unfortunately, Boston also has some of the highest hotel and rental costs in the nation, with limited vacancy. Patients and families who have to be in Boston for life-saving treatment are often left on their own to find lodging when hospital housing or insurance reimbursement are not available.
Hospitality Homes provides no-cost, short-term housing in volunteer host homes and in donated apartments to families and loved ones of patients seeking care at Boston-area healthcare centers. Since 2015, Gwen and Jeff have been volunteer hosts, providing a "home-away-from home" and a Boston-area family experience for many of these patients who are dealing with serious medical illnesses.
Over the past four years, Gwen and Jeff have opened their home to more than 35 families for more than 1,000 nights of free housing. Most of their guests have traveled long distances, including internationally, and many guests have been young parents with babies who know that the only place in the world to treat their loved one is at Boston-area hospitals.
"We are honored to be selected as Patriots Difference Makers of the Week," said Gwen and Jeff. "Living so close to some of the best medical facilities in the world, we believe it's incumbent upon us to help others from across the country and around the world who are facing serious illness and need to travel to Boston for their care. We are proud to think that we were able to support so many families during times of hardship and uncertainty, and encourage others to open their homes as well."
In addition to hosting families, Gwen and Jeff serve on the Host Community Advisory Board, a leadership team of volunteers who help build the program, train volunteers, offer support to new volunteers and evaluate how the program is successful. Gwen and Jeff share their story whenever they can to help recruit new volunteers and to show others how they can make a difference.
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.