FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (Sept. 16, 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."
Max Surprenant from Needham, Mass. was selected as a 2021 Patriots Difference Maker of the Week for his commitment to Catching Joy. 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.
In 2008, when Max was four years old, he saw a homeless man for the first time and wanted to help. With the support of his family, he co-founded Catching Joy. Inc., a nonprofit that promotes volunteerism and acts of kindness beginning with kids, teens and families. He spends 10 to 15 hours per week organizing hands-on service projects to help share the responsibility and joy of giving.
"After a chance encounter seeing a homeless person in Boston when I was four years old, and watching people pass him as if he was invisible, I felt empathy and wanted to help," said Max. "Volunteering gives me perspective and purpose. I'm motivated to serve because I want to make people's lives better."
At the start of the global Covid-19 pandemic, when the Boston Marathon was canceled, Max launched, "Catching Joy Marathon: 26 ways to aid essential workers and people in need." That has since evolved to an Ultra Marathon, rallying thousands of people to do good from home, providing 100 different opportunities to help, including collecting toiletries, clothing and making hearts cards with positive messages to spread empathy, kindness, love and hope.
Max donated blessing bags filled with much needed toiletries, disposable masks and heart cards to local nonprofits including St. Francis House and Pine Street Inn. He collected coats, hats, scarves and clothing for underserved schools. He also led Operation Sock Drop, providing more than 7,000 pairs of socks to those in need. Max also serves as a leader for several youth empowering organizations, encouraging his peers to get involved in their communities.
"I've learned that people want to help, but often need a vehicle to do it. During the Covid-19 pandemic, I've become more aware of mine and other's vulnerability, but I've also discovered the power of community," said Max. "I've been rallying people of all ages and backgrounds to do good safely from home. I believe that we have a responsibility to use our gifts and talents to make a difference. And in the process of lifting others, we all stay buoyant. Covid-19 is contagious, but so is kindness, love and hope."
Over the past 13 years, Max has partnered with schools, nonprofits, businesses and community leaders, mobilizing an estimated 100,000 people to participate in various service projects. He proves that age is not a weakness but a strength as he demonstrates that you are never too young to start giving back.
"I'm honored to have been selected as a Patriots Difference Maker of the Week," said Max. "I'm a big Patriots fan and service means a lot to me. I don't serve for awards, but it's nice to be recognized and have the opportunity to spread my message."
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.