FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (Nov. 18, 2021) – Throughout the 2021 season, the Kraft family and the New England Patriots Foundation will recognize 17 local volunteers with the "Patriots Difference Maker of the Week Award." The honorees will be celebrated for going above and beyond to support nonprofit organizations in our New England communities.
As part of this recognition, the foundation will present a $5,000 donation to the nonprofit organization represented by each honoree. The Patriots Difference Makers will participate in a special year-end celebration and receive a pair of tickets to attend the Patriots final regular season home game on Jan. 2 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
"We are excited to once again recognize local volunteers with our Patriots Difference Maker of the Week Award," said Josh Kraft, president, New England Patriots Foundation. "Each of these honorees has their own unique story of community service and we are proud to shine a light on the tremendous work they are doing. We would like to thank all of this year's Patriots Difference Makers for helping to build stronger New England communities."
Jean Larson, from Hamden, Conn. was selected as a 2021 Patriots Difference Maker of the Week for her commitment to APNH: A Place to Nourish Your Health. 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.
APNH: A Place to Nourish your Health (APNH) was started by a group of volunteers in 1983. The organization was called AIDS Project New Haven for 35 years and is the oldest AIDS service organization in Connecticut. In 2018, the nonprofit changed their name to APNH: A Place to Nourish your Health and broadened their mission and vision to provide services for those who face stigma or challenges in receiving culturally competent care.
APNH strives to build a community where everyone has access to high quality, relationship based, holistic care to inspire health and well-being and to empower people at risk of, or impacted by, HIV, substance use, mental illness and related conditions. Their clients often feel marginalized and are at great risk of experiencing food insecurity and homelessness.
Jean began volunteering for the nonprofit six years ago as a volunteer reception coordinator. Whether on the phone, or in the office, she is the first person that clients and staff meet every day. Her warm and welcoming demeanor allows clients to feel safe. Through her smile and contagious positivity, she makes everyone feel valuable, special and loved.
"I am honored and proud to represent APNH: A Place to Nourish your Health and am grateful to the Patriots Foundation for choosing to support the vital work done here," said Jean. "I love working reception – it gives me the privilege of meeting and getting to know the individuals who come to APNH for services."
Thanks to volunteers like Jean, APNH also provides home-delivered meals to homebound clients who would not receive proper nutrition otherwise. She is always eager to help and both APNH, and their clients, can always count on her.
After many years of volunteering in the reception area, Jean took on an additional role, devoting several hours each week to assist the pharmacy program at APNH. Her genuine and non-judgmental approach enables her to create instant friendships. Clients rave about Jean, admiring her willingness to talk, listen, offer advice or just be a sounding board. She makes other people's days a little bit brighter by exuding love to everyone she meets.
"Volunteering at APNH has enriched my life," said Jean. "I am honored to be part of a team that values the individuals who we serve – to me, and the rest of the team, they are not just clients but part of APNH."
The Patriots Difference Maker of the Week Award is part of the foundation's Celebrate Volunteerism initiative, designed to educate fans about the need for volunteering, highlight deserving volunteers from across the region and inspire Patriots fans to become lifelong volunteers.
This marks the 11th season that the Kraft family and the Patriots Foundation has presented their Patriots Difference Maker of the Week Award to volunteers from all across New England. Since its inception, 150 individuals have received this award and more than $675,000 has been donated to local nonprofit organizations.
To learn more about the program or to nominate a volunteer for the Patriots Difference Maker of the Week Award, visit www.patriots.com/community.