FOXBOROUGH, Mass.– The Celebrate Volunteerism initiative aims to share examples of dedicated volunteers, build awareness of the need for volunteering, identify and educate others about volunteer opportunities and inspire New Englanders to follow the Kraft family's example of becoming lifelong volunteers.
Though the spirit of volunteerism will continue beyond the 2022 football season, the Kraft family, the New England Patriots Foundation and cornerstone partner Gillette celebrated the ongoing initiative in a special pregame ceremony during the Patriots' regular season finale versus the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, Jan. 1 at Gillette Stadium.
Throughout the season, the foundation presented a weekly "Patriots Difference Maker of the Week" award, which aims to recognize deserving volunteers who go above and beyond to help build stronger New England communities. Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft, Patriots and Pro Football Hall of Famer Andre Tippett and Senior Director of Human Resources for P&G Monya Fiore were on the field prior to the game to congratulate all of this year's winners.
"It is hard to measure or fully appreciate the positive impact that these volunteers regularly make in their communities," said Robert Kraft. "They are truly making the world a better place and deserve to be recognized for their many contributions. We have been celebrating volunteerism for many decades and will continue to use our platform to promote their work in hopes of inspiring others to do the same."
At Sunday's game, the Kraft family announced that each of the Patriots Difference Makers would be receiving a $5,000 grant to support the nonprofit organizations for which they volunteer. They also presented a $20,000 grant to the AYJ Fund on behalf of the 2022 Patriots Difference Maker of the Year, Kathy Arabia.
In 2013, Kathy and her husband Joe established the AYJ Fund in remembrance of their daughter, Anna, who passed away at age 16 from a rare brain tumor, Gliomatosis Cerebri. The mission of the AYJ Fund is to bring smiles to kids with cancer, keep them connected to friends and school through technology and to find a cure for Gliomatosis Cerebri and other brain tumors.
When Anna was diagnosed with Gliomatosis Cerebri in 2009, there was no research being done on her rare type of brain cancer. Thanks to the dedication of Kathy and her family, the AYJ Fund now supports research laboratories at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Weill Cornell Medical Center and Lucille Packard Children's Hospital.
"I am so grateful and honored that our work to support children with cancer through the AYJ Fund is being celebrated by the New England Patriots Foundation. Eleven years ago, three rookie Patriots players visited our daughter Anna at Boston Children's Hospital and brought joy and smiles to her hospital room," said Kathy. "Since she became our angel we work to spread smiles in this way to more children and to fund critical research to find effective treatments. It feels like a full circle moment."
Thanks to the work of Kathy, the AYJ Fund and other similar family foundations, the first International Conference on Gliomatosis Cerebri was hosted in Paris in 2015. Additional conferences were held in 2017 and 2019, all of which brought together over 30 leading pediatric neuro-oncologists from North America and Europe.
The 2022 Patriots Difference Makers of the Week range in age from 15 to 82 and support communities across New England. Charitable causes include healthcare, education, food insecurity, youth mentoring and more.
"There's no better example of the 'Best a Man Can Get' than the 17 honorees who are being recognized as 2022 Patriots Difference Makers," said Kara Buckley, Vice President of Communications and Community Affairs, P&G Gillette. "These everyday heroes work tirelessly to improve the lives of those around them and have strengthened our community in many ways. We are grateful that our partners at the Kraft Family and New England Patriots Foundation are celebrating these individuals and inspiring others by example."
For more information about the Celebrate Volunteerism initiative and the 2022 Patriots Difference Makers of the Week, visit www.patriots.com/community/pdm.
2022 Patriots Difference Makers of the Week:
|Organization||Patriots Difference Maker||Hometown|
|JP@Home||Fabrien Rosen||West Roxbury, Mass.|
|Project Just Because||Bette McBride||Hopkinton, Mass.|
|Emmaus Inc.||Terry Stonecipher||North Andover, Mass.|
|For Kids’ Sake Foundation Inc.||Megan Jusczyk||Plainville, Mass.|
|Greatest MINDS Boston||Jhondell Smith-Young||Boston, Mass.|
|Future In Sight||Ellen Keefe||Newmarket, N.H.|
|Uncommon Threads||Karla Marleny Ortega Diaz||Lawrence, Mass.|
|Island Grown Initiative||Carol Collins||Vineyard Haven, Mass.|
|The Carroll Center for the Blind||Jonathan Valdez||Lawrence, Mass.|
|Eliot Family Resource Center||Sophia Gentile||Medford, Mass.|
|Equally Different Inc.||Marie DiMartino||Billerica, Mass.|
|EVKids||James Flynn||Salem, N.H.|
|AYJ Fund||Kathy Arabia||North Adams, Mass.|
|Melrose Alliance Against Violence||Paul Squatrito||Melrose, Mass.|
|LEAP for Education||Steven Becroft||Salem, Mass.|
|Augusta Food Bank||Mike Johnson||Manchester, Maine|
|Special Education Legal Fund||Christine W. Lai||Greenwich, Conn.|