PROVIDENCE – Four people from Rhode Island and one from Bristol County, Mass., were honored for their volunteerism at the 2019 Myra Kraft Community MVP Awards ceremony this month at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.
The six were among 25 honorees from across New England who were awarded $10,000 grants for their cause. A grand-prize winner received a $25,000 grant.
New England Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft attended the ceremony to congratulate the honorees. Kraft was joined by New England Patriots Charitable Foundation President Joshua Kraft and Patriots and Pro Football Hall of Famer and New England Patriots Executive Director of Community Affairs Andre Tippett.
The local honorees:
- Esta Cohen, of East Greenwich, was selected for her work with Dress for Success in Providence, an organization that empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life. The client population is referred by homeless shelters, domestic violence agencies, veterans groups, post-prison rehabilitation organizations and many other groups supporting women working to obtain meaningful employment. Cohen is a founding member of the board of directors.
- Dr. Timothy Flanigan, of Tiverton, was selected for his efforts at Star Kids Scholarship Program in Middletown. To help break the intergenerational cycle of drug use, poverty and incarceration, Flanigan started a foundation in 1997 to provide scholarships to children of women who had a history of incarceration. The program has evolved into the Star Kids Scholarship Program, which also serves children whose parents have a history of drug use. The program now serves children in Newport County, Fall River and New Bedford.
- Therese Stafford, of Coventry, was selected for volunteering at Women & Infants Hospital in Providence after her triplets, born prematurely, died in 2002. She created the Feed-A-Family program that provides meals to parents who don’t want to leave their baby’s bedside while in the neonatal intensive care unit. She has organized bake sales, raffles and other fundraising events to raise money for the program and to offer her support to NICU families throughout the year. She has hosted Mother’s Day and Father’s Day celebrations, facilitated photo sessions for families and made sure families receive gifts during the holidays.
- Al Galinelli, of Warren, was selected for his volunteer work at Central Fire Company. Galinelli, a Vietnam veteran, has been a volunteer firefighter since 1965, rising to part-time volunteer fire chief. Recently, Galinelli saved the life of a suicidal man who had doused himself in gasoline and was holding a lighter by talking to him with patience and kindness.
- Brenda Venice, of Fall River, was selected for her volunteerism at the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Bristol County. She has dedicated more than 25 years of her life to educating the community on mental illness after she was raised by a mother who suffered from mental illness and has two adult children who are affected by the illness. Venice runs three support groups, conducts community conversation nights, educates the public on the resources that are available and matches them with the appropriate service provider to get the help and the services they need.
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