The New England Patriots Charitable Foundation has named Friends volunteer Caren Bonisteel as the Patriots Difference Maker of the Week. Patriots CEO Robert Kraft and other members of the Patriots organization recognized Bonisteel during a special ceremony during the December 28 home game against the Buffalo Bills. Kraft also took the opportunity to announce a grant of $5,000 to the Friends, as well as awards to other nonprofits selected earlier in the season.
The Patriots Charitable Foundation selects outstanding volunteers based on a specific weekly theme. Bonisteel was selected in recognition of her work in Senior Advocacy through the Friends Caregivers and Bone Builders programs.
Twice a week, Bonisteel co- leads Bone Builders strength exercise sessions at the Concord Community Center. The Bone Builders program helps seniors improve bone and muscle strength, balance, circulation, and general health. As a session co-leader, she ensures that all participants can get healthy in a safe, comfortable, and fun setting. Bonisteel not only helps seniors stay fit but is also emblematic example of how the program’s social aspect enhances the overall fitness experience.
Bonisteel is also a a Friends Caregiver, providing rides for housebound seniors to medical appointments, the grocery store, and to run other errands. The Friends Caregiver Program is essential for many seniors to remain in their homes and live independently. Bonisteel has been taking a local homebound woman named Patricia each week to appointments. Patricia has some chronic health issues that require frequent medical attention – but she doesn’t drive. Through the Caregivers Program, the pair have become fast friends. Patricia likes to say, “She makes everything rosy.” Patricia feels like she can talk to her about anything. Caren opens up the world for Patricia, beyond the four walls of her apartment.
"The Friends Program is a wonderful organization," said Bonisteel. "I have been blessed in my life, so volunteering allows me to give back in a very small way to those in need. Not only is volunteering helpful to the seniors and children in my community, but it is very rewarding to me as well. I am very grateful to the Friends Program for being there and for their diversity in helping others."
The Celebrate Volunteerism initiative aims to share examples of dedicated volunteers, build awareness of the need for volunteering, and inspire New Englanders to follow the Kraft family's example of becoming a lifelong volunteer.
Throughout the season, the Kraft family and New England Patriots Charitable Foundation celebrated volunteers who work tirelessly to support children and families in need throughout the New England region, while also encouraging Patriots fans to get involved in their communities. From animals and arts to military and homelessness, the Foundation will have different weekly focuses throughout the season. Each week, the Kraft family and foundation recognizes one outstanding volunteer as the Patriots Difference Maker of the Week.