Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Patriots Honor Area Youth Volunteers to Kick off 2014 Celebrate Volunteerism Initiative

New England Patriots Charitable Foundation and Patriots players recognize youth volunteers with pizza and bowling party at Patriot Place's Splitsville Luxury Lanes and Howl at the Moon to kick off 2014 Celebrate Volunteerism initiative on Tuesday, Sept. 16.

It takes many people to make a difference and on Tuesday, Sept. 16, the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation and several Patriots players recognized more than 30 local youth volunteers for their hard work and dedication to helping others. Youth volunteers from Hockomock Area YMCA branches, Weymouth High School and Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston were honored by the Foundation and Patriots players Nate Solder, James Develin, Josh Boyce and Ja'Gared Davis at Patriot Place's Splitsville Luxury Lanes and Howl at the Moon. Volunteers and players shared stories about their volunteer work, which stemmed from their different passions and upbringings.
 "The thing I would say about volunteering is that, just like me and my teammates on the football field, there is a common goal and a common purpose," said Solder. "I think that's the neatest thing I've always found with volunteering. It creates a network between volunteers, a network between different communities and different groups all over the world. I sure enjoy being a part of it and I congratulate these youth volunteers because it's amazing work they are doing." After sharing some of his own volunteer experiences, Develin provided the group a meaningful quote he recently came across that has stuck with him. "If you're not living your life to make someone else's life better, than you're wasting your time," Develin recalled to the group.
 For Foxborough resident Dan DeMars, Tuesday's event was all about giving back to the youth volunteers who give so much to their respective communities. "These kids are always giving back," said DeMars, who serves as Teen Director of the YMCA's Invensys Foxboro Branch. "We have a lot of family events at the YMCA and there are a lot of community events throughout our towns and surrounding areas that these kids are always giving back to. For us to have this opportunity to appreciate them through the Patriots Charitable Foundation is awesome." 
From left to right: New England Patriots offensive tackle Nate Solder, fullback James Develin, wide receiver Josh Boyce and linebacker Ja’Gared Davis celebrate youth volunteerism with volunteers from the Hockomock Area YMCA branches on Tuesday, Sept. 16. The Patriots Charitable Foundation kicked off the 2014 Celebrate Volunteerism at Patriot Place’s Splitsville Luxury Lanes with a pizza and bowling party

DeMars added the YMCA has enjoyed a tremendous partnership with the Patriots and Tuesday's event was another great example of the organization's support. "We're really lucky in Foxborough to have an affiliation with the Patriots organization," DeMars said. "Like Nate Solder said, we all have a common goal and a common purpose to be making an impact and to be doing a good thing, so I think the message the Patriots are sending these kids is amazing and it's valuable. It's going to do a lot for these kids and give them positive reinforcement to give back and make a difference." One of DeMars' volunteers, Lindsey DeRusha of Wrentham, said she enjoys volunteering at the Foxboro YMCA because it has given her so much over the years. "The YMCA has done so much for me personally," DeRusha, 16, said. "I go there to exercise, I work there, I participate in the leadership club and I just really feel like it's my turn to give back to the YMCA. It's my turn to give it what it has given me." For DeRusha, the best part of Tuesday's event was being able to share experiences and stories with other volunteers, eat pizza and bowl with the Patriots players. "This is awesome," DeRusha said with a big smile. "I volunteer to give back, but to know these players and the Patriots organization are rooting us on and they admire us as much as we admire them is the best feeling in the world! It makes everything so worthwhile." The event, which kicked off the Foundation's 2014 Celebrate Volunteerism initiative, also recognized Tara Balan, a senior at Weymouth High School, as the Patriots Difference Maker of the Week for Youth Volunteerism. Balan, 17, has spent her entire high school career taking advantage of opportunities to serve others and has led multiple service projects. At age 14, she was chosen to represent the town of Weymouth in the launch of the Project 351, a community service initiative that unites eighth grade students from every town in Massachusetts. More recently, Balan led a commemoration project to honor the victims of Sept. 11 and coordinated a clothing drive for Cradles to Crayons.
 An excited Balan said she was humbled by the recognition.
New England Patriots fullback James Develin (center) celebrates youth volunteerism with students from Weymouth High School at Patriot Place’s Splitsville Luxury Lanes on Tuesday, Sept. 16. Weymouth’s Tara Balan (front, far right) was recognized as the Patriots Difference Maker of the Week for her volunteer work

 "I'm very honored to receive this recognition, but at the same time it's a very humbling experience because it's not like I did all of these things just to be recognized," said Balan. "This is a really neat event and I'm incredibly fortunate to be a part of it."
Balan added she enjoyed spending time with other youth volunteers and hearing Patriots players share their own volunteer experiences. "I think it's really cool the Patriots players came out here to share their own volunteer experiences and congratulate everyone on the work they are currently doing," Balan said. "It's great to see that everyone is involved in community service, even people that we idolize. To know people like these players still take the time to give back to their community is very important."

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