FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Every year since 1998, the Kraft family and the New England Patriots have been celebrating those who give their time to help others. The program was originally known as the Community Quarterback Awards and were presented to those who exemplify leadership, dedication and a commitment to improving their communities through volunteerism.
In 2011, the awards were renamed in honor of the late Myra Kraft who committed her life to volunteering. As part of the New England Patriots Foundation's ongoing Celebrate Volunteerism initiative, the Kraft family traditionally hosts a special ceremony at Gillette Stadium to celebrate the honorees.
On Friday, Oct. 30, the Kraft family and the New England Patriots hosted a virtual ceremony to celebrate 26 volunteers from all across New England. Twenty-five organizations received grants of $10,000 in honor of their outstanding volunteers and one grand prize winner received a surprise $25,000 donation.
Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft, New England Patriots Foundation President Joshua Kraft and Patriots and Pro Football Hall of Famer and Patriots Executive Director of Community Affairs Andre Tippett all participated in the virtual ceremony.
"This year has been incredibly challenging for so many families, but it has also been difficult for nonprofits," said Robert Kraft. "They have been called upon to support more families than ever before, but have been unable to host their traditional fundraising events. Volunteers are the lifeblood of these charitable organizations and they have stepped up in a big way during this unprecedented time. We were honored to be able to meet 26 of these local heroes – albeit virtually – and to be able to shine a spotlight on their volunteer efforts."
Bonnie Berman of Worcester, Mass. was selected as this year's $25,000 grand prize winner for her volunteer efforts at The CASA Project of Worcester County.
Bonnie has spent the past 10 years providing a voice in court for children that have experienced emotional, physical and sexual abuse and neglect. She interviews the children, parents, social workers, foster parents, counselors, teachers and service providers to determine the facts and circumstances of each child's situation. Bonnie spends time visiting with the children, building a sense of trust and advocating for their best interest.
"I became a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) because my son strongly suggested it," said Bonnie. "And I am so glad that he did. My experience as a CASA volunteer has enriched my life in so many ways. Truthfully, it also helped me heal personally."
Bonnie has continued to volunteer through various challenges – both personally and with each individual case – and when the pandemic began, she purchased tablets to ensure that CASA children had the technology they needed for virtual visits and online learning.
"As CASA volunteers we care about every child," said Bonnie. "We build relationships with the children to gain their trust and we allow them to express their feelings without judgement or repercussions. We become their voices when nobody else is listening."
Over the past 10 years Bonnie has worked 19 different cases in the Worcester Juvenile Court and advocated for 47 children that have been abused, neglected and exploited. Thanks to her commitment, these children have grown up in safe, permanent homes with a sense of hope and bright futures.
"Receiving an award named on behalf of Myra Kraft means everything to me," said Bonnie. "I have so much admiration for her, everything she accomplished and everything she stood for."
The 2020 Myra Kraft Community MVP winners range from 14 to 97 years old and represent every New England state. The selected nonprofits provide support for many causes, including education, foster care, homelessness, mental health, mentoring, military support and youth development.
The Kraft family and the New England Patriots Foundation received more than 250 applications this year from nonprofit organizations looking to recognize their outstanding volunteers. Nominations open each spring and the awards are open to all nonprofit organizations in the New England region. For more information on the Myra Kraft Community MVP Awards, please visit www.patriots.com/community.
*Below is a complete list of the 2020 Myra Kraft Community MVP Award Winners: *
$25,000 Grand Prize Winner
First and Last Name - Hometown Organization, Organization Town
Bonnie Berman - Worcester, Mass. The CASA Project of Worcester County, Worcester, Mass.
$10,000 Award Winners
First and Last Name - Hometown Organization, Organization Town
Hannah Addi - Franklin, Mass. The Elisha Project E., Providence, R.I.
Alison Bologna - Pawtucket, R.I. Shri Service Corps, Pawtucket, R.I.
Julie Brennan - N. Easton, Mass. We Do Care, Grief & Loss, N. Easton, Mass.
Dennis Dean - Kittery, Maine A House for ME, Kittery, Maine
Ryan DeRoche - Melrose, Mass. United Spinal Association, Woburn, Mass.
Mary Dibinga - Roslindale, Mass. Boston Debate League, Boston, Mass.
Lotte Diomede - Sudbury, Mass. SMILE Mass, Sudbury, Mass.
Joan "Ducky" Donath - Burlington, Vt. Sara M. Holbrook Community Center, Burlington, Vt.
David Eustace - Stoneham, Maine No Limits Foundation, Wales, Maine
Michael Faucher - Haverhill, Mass. ALS ONE Whitman, Mass.
Carleton "Zeke" Finch - Fitchburg, Mass. Habitat for Humanity (N. Central MA), Acton, Mass.
Suzanne Fox - Falmouth, Maine The Yellow Tulip Project, Falmouth, Maine
Hannah Galvin - N. Andover, Mass. Bridge Over Troubled Waters, Boston, Mass.
Colleen Garrity - Laconia, N.H. Belknap House, Laconia, N.H.
Linda Gilley - Somers, Conn. Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation, Bloomfield, Conn.
Daniel Hebert - Hillsboro, N.H. NH Jumpstart Coalition, Hillsboro, N.H.
Pat Hubbell - Nashua, N.H. Candorful, Inc., Boston, Mass.
Patrick Leahy - Bethany, Conn. Saint Thomas More Soup Kitchen, New Haven, Conn.
Skyla Libby - Jonesport, Maine Crossroads Youth Center, Saco, Maine
Kevin Lynch - E. Falmouth, Mass. The Quell Foundation, N. Falmouth, Mass.
Jason Main - Bolton, Mass. Friends Never Forget, Bolton, Mass.
Katerina Papadopoulos - Stratford, Conn. Norma Pfriem Breast Center, Fairfield, Conn.
Joan Philips - Pittsfield, Mass. HopeWell, Inc., Dedham, Mass.
Peg Ricardo - Tewksbury, Mass. Project Sweet Peas, Warwick, R.I.
Michael Rocha - Dartmouth, Mass. Boys & Girls Club of Greater New Bedford, New Bedford, Mass.