FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (Oct. 21, 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."
Nathan Persampieri from Newton, Mass. was selected as a 2021 Patriots Difference Maker of the Week for his commitment to Understanding Our Differences. 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.
The mission of Understanding Our Differences is to educate communities to value and accept people of all abilities through school-based, interactive disability awareness programs. The nonprofit serves more than 80 schools in eastern Massachusetts and beyond and is committed to teaching students to see the whole person and better understand the disability.
Living with cerebral palsy has presented a variety of challenges for Nathan, but he refuses to let it slow him down. Four years ago, as a junior in high school, Nathan coordinated a "Beyond Kindness" event at his school. The event featured a panel of students sharing their experiences about living with a disability, emphasizing the importance of understanding diversity and promoting inclusion. That summer, he served as an intern for the nonprofit, helping to assist staff members and building a disability curriculum for students.
"I first got involved with Understanding our Difference back in 2017, when I created two panels for high school students," said Nathan. "That was one of the many ways I gave back. I have helped the nonprofit out ever since. I love what they do, I believe in their mission, and I'm glad to be a part of it."
Nathan is currently on the advisory board for the nonprofit and plays an active role as an advocate, ambassador and volunteer. He meets with school and city leaders to raise the profile of people with disabilities and encourages them to create new programs that raise awareness and encourage inclusion. Nathan continues to coordinate events and serves as a volunteer speaker for the nonprofit's physical disabilities unit.
With boundless energy, a great sense of humor and a welcoming personal style, Nathan instills confidence in people with disabilities and encourages them to share their stories. He also encourages people who do not have disabilities to better understand people who do and to be more comfortable interacting and making real connections.
"Volunteering is important to me because it is a way of giving back," said Nathan. "It's important to give back to your community, especially to those in need."
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.