Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft and Patriots and Pro Football Hall of Famer Andre Tippett congratulate Chris Kuhni from Milbridge, Maine for being selected as a 2021 Myra Kraft Community MVP Award winner. During the August 11 luncheon, the Kraft family and the New England Patriots Foundation awarded $275,000 in grants to 26 New England nonprofits. Women for Healthy Rural Living received a $10,000 grant in honor of her volunteer efforts. (photo courtesy of Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots)
In 2011, the awards were renamed in honor of the late Myra Kraft who committed her life to volunteering. As part of the New England Patriots Foundation’s ongoing Celebrate Volunteerism initiative, the Kraft family hosts a special luncheon each year to show their appreciation for local volunteers.
On Wednesday, Aug. 11, 26 volunteers were recognized for their contributions at an awards ceremony at Gillette Stadium. Twenty-five organizations received grants of $10,000 in honor of their outstanding volunteers and one grand prize winner received a surprise $25,000 donation.
On hand to congratulate the award winners were Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft, New England Patriots Foundation President Joshua Kraft and Patriots and Pro Football Hall of Famer and Patriots Executive Director of Community Affairs Andre Tippett.
“This marks the tenth year that this program has been named in memory of my sweetheart, Myra,” said Robert Kraft. “The past 18 months have been unlike anything we’ve experienced in our lifetime. During these challenging times, these 26 honorees stepped up to serve more children and families than ever before. We admire their selfless dedication and we know that Myra is smiling down on all of them.”
Chris Kuhni of Milbridge, Maine was recognized for her volunteer efforts and a $10,000 donation was presented to Women for Healthy Rural Living (WHRL).
Chris founded the nonprofit Women for Healthy Rural Living in 2004 as a health lending library. Since its inception, the nonprofit has steadily grown, now offering a broad scope of programs.
Under Chris’ leadership, WHRL created 33,000 square feet of free pick-your-own vegetable gardens, established a nursing scholarship program and helped to install Milbridge Commons Wellness Park with handicapped-accessible gathering spaces. She also started a diversity, equity and inclusion action group to remove barriers to healthcare and wellness programs.
“This award is a reflection of the teamwork that has transformed our small, rural community,” said Chris. “Just as a quarterback cannot score a touchdown alone, the success of our organization speaks to the talent and dedication of our staff and many volunteers. This prestigious award will bring with it a recognition of our work as we strive to create a culture of wellness in Downeast Maine. I am thrilled to accept this honor on behalf of my entire team.”
As the volunteer executive director, Chris has dedicated more than 16,000 hours to the organization – while still working a full-time job as a nurse practitioner.
“Women for Healthy Rural Living would not exist without Chris – our founder and leader,” said Susan Jordan Bennett, associate director at the nonprofit. “Being selected as a Myra Kraft Community MVP is a validation of the impact she has made within our organization and community. Through her work with us, she has helped shape a healthier and more vibrant place to live, grow, and thrive.”
“My mother was a community volunteer all her life and I was encouraged to start volunteering early,” said Chris. “So for me, it just feels natural. Volunteering provides meaning and purpose to life. We are all here to help lift one another. Our own lives are enriched when we can give of ourselves.”
The 2021 Myra Kraft Community MVP winners range from 21 to 92 years old and represent every New England state. The selected nonprofits provide support for many causes, including education, domestic violence prevention, healthcare, homelessness, mentoring and military support.
The Kraft family and the New England Patriots Foundation received more than 250 applications this year from nonprofit organizations looking to recognize their outstanding volunteers. Nominations open each spring and the awards are open to all nonprofit organizations in the New England region. For more information on the Myra Kraft Community MVP Awards, please visit www.patriots.com/community.