FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (WWLP)– The New England Patriots Foundation has awarded $100,000 in grants to 17 Massachusetts nonprofits, including one in North Adams.

The Foundation has been presenting a weekly “Patriots Difference Maker of the Week” award throughout the season as part of their Celebrate Volunteerism initiative which recognizes volunteers who go above and beyond to help build stronger New England communities. 

Before the New Year’s Day Patriots 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.

The AYJ Fund was founded by North Adams residents Kathy and Joe Arabia in remembrance of their daughter, Anna, who passed away at age 16 from a rare brain tumor, Gliomatosis Cerebri.  At the time of her diagnosis, there wasn’t any research being done on this type of brain cancer. Because of the diligent work 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.”

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. For more information about the Celebrate Volunteerism initiative and the 2022 Patriots Difference Makers of the Week, go to this website.

Below is a list of the 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.