FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (Nov. 10, 2017) – Over the past seven years, the Kraft family and the New England Patriots Foundation have placed a strong emphasis on celebrating volunteerism and honored hundreds of volunteers in the process. Throughout the 2017 season, the foundation continues its mission of teaming with nonprofit organizations to educate fans about the need for volunteering, highlight deserving volunteers from across the region and seek to inspire Patriots fans to become lifelong volunteers.
Every week throughout the season, the Kraft family and the foundation present the "Patriots Difference Maker of the Week" award, which recognizes deserving volunteers who go above and beyond to support their local community and nonprofit organizations.
"So many nonprofit organizations rely on the work of volunteers," said Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft. "We encourage everyone to volunteer and like to highlight those who do the most to positively impact their communities. It's nice to give credit to those who are most deserving and to reward the nonprofits they represent."
Jason Albaum, Colby Ellis and Juli Ennis from Kennebunk, Maine were selected as the Patriots Difference Makers of the Week for their commitment to Project Playback.
Jason, Colby and Juli teamed up for a community service project as part of an eighth grade class assignment. The Kennebunk middle school students were all members of the school band and wanted to be able to use their passion for music as a way to give back to the community.
Together, they formed Project Playback which creates customized playlists for nursing home patients that are living with dementia and Alzheimer's to help trigger memories. The playlists are customized for each individual and includes music designed to have a positive effect on their mental, social and emotional heath.
"It is a great honor to be selected for this award by such a well-known and respected organization in the New England area," said Colby. "We are so glad to know that our work is appreciated not only by those we serve, but by the community as a whole."
They fell in love with the project and over the past four years, the trio has visited nursing home patients at least twice a week to share their passion for music with seniors living with dementia and Alzheimer's. They have also recruited other students to get involved with the project and have spoken at local youth activist conferences to help bring the program to other nursing homes.
"When we dance, sing, or talk with residents, their smiles and joy always brighten our days," said Juli. "Without Project Playback, we never would've seen just how impactful service can be."
"We hope that Project Playback can inspire others to give back to their communities," said Jason. "What we've learned through our work is that community service is a two-way street. In helping others, you can also benefit."
The trio will join 14 other outstanding volunteers for a special in-game ceremony at the Patriots Dec. 31 game against the New York Jets. They will also be featured in the Patriots Football Weekly newspaper, Patriots GameDay magazine and on www.patriots.com/community.
For more information about the Celebrate Volunteerism initiative, including pictures and videos of Patriots players giving back to the community, resources and information about volunteering, or the "Patriots Difference Maker of the Week" award, visit www.patriots.com/community.