The Kraft family has always known what it was like to be hands-on. Whether it’s a personal or professional cause, they’ve tried to set an example of what it means to participate. So it makes sense that they would start the Celebrate Volunteerism initiative. Their efforts are meant to inspire and educate people about what it really means to become lifelong volunteers.
Volunteering is an easy thing for people to recommend, but it’s not always as easy to find a space where you really belong. This initiative is designed to start a conversation about the need for volunteers and how people can get into the habit of giving up their time in return for helping their community.
To commemorate this mission, the Patriots held a special ceremony on Jan 1 at Gillette Stadium. This pregame event took place during the season finale game against the Miami Dolphins. The spirit of volunteerism will clearly last well past 2022, but Robert Kraft believed this initiative deserved a special highlight during one of the most important games of the regular season.
Patriots Difference Maker of the Week
Volunteering is a location-specific endeavor, one that takes into account the biggest problems that a community is facing and then prioritizes the most important issues. Robert Kraft, CEO and Chairman of the Kraft Group, wanted to recognize the people who go the extra mile, which is why his foundation presented different standouts with a Patriots’ Difference Maker of the Week. This award went to people who have strengthened their New England communities through their conscientious and consistent work.
During the big ceremony on New Years Day, Kraft was joined by Andre Tippett and Sr. Director of Human Resources for P&G, Monya Fiore. They were both on the field before the game to congratulate the winners personally. Kraft was truly impressed and touched by the work of the honorees. “It is hard to measure or fully appreciate the positive impact that these volunteers regularly make in their communities. 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.”
In addition to the recognition at the game and during the season, Robert Kraft and his family donated $5,000 to the nonprofit organizations where the award recipients volunteer. They also gave a $20,000 grant to the Patriots’ Difference Maker of the Year. In 2022, that was Kathy Arabia, who works with the AYJ Fund, a fund that she and her husband established to help children with cancer.
The Arabias set up the foundation after their daughter passed away at 16 from a rare brain tumor. The goal of the organization is to keep kids connected to their schoolwork and friends with the help of technology. It’s also to fund research for brain tumors like Gilomatosis Cerebri. Unfortunately, this type of cancer was so rare that in 2009 — when their daughter was diagnosed — there was no one looking into the matter. Kathy and her husband didn’t want the same thing to happen to other parents. Now, the AYJ fund has set up laboratories at a number of institutes, including Weill Cornell Medical Center and Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital. The additional $20,000 will go a long way toward giving parents hope during a dark time.
Grateful and Honored
Kathy was so pleased to be a part of Robert Kraft’s great initiative, particularly when she had support from the foundation long before she received the grant. “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. 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.”
In addition to establishing research centers in the US, the AYJ Fund (along with other family foundations) launched the first International Conference on Gliomatosis Cerebri. Hosted in Paris in 2015, the AYJ Fund would help fund two more conferences in 2017 and 2019. Each event brought pediatric neuro-oncologists from across North America and Europe to discuss the specifics of the cancer.
Honorees throughout the rest of the year ranged in age and contributed to causes like hunger, youth mentoring, education, and healthcare. From teenagers to octogenarians, these volunteers represent the best that New England has to offer, and Robert Kraft was privileged to stand beside them.
See more about Kraft on https://www.forbes.com/profile/robert-kraft/