Disability reviewer honored by the New England Patriots for creating support group for the unemployed in Rhode Island

June 12, 2017

Stephen Colella, a disability reviewer from UMass Medical School, has been honored by the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation for creating and managing a job search initiative. The Myra Kraft Community MVP award was presented to Colella by Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft on June 8 at Gillette Stadium.

Colella was recognized for Job Club RI, a weekly support group for unemployed individuals in Rhode Island seeking advice and leads on new work opportunities. Employers, such as the Ocean State Job Lot CEO Marc Perlman, often attend the meetings as guest speakers. The Job Club reports that 68 percent of its members find employment after joining.

“The recognition by the Kraft family and foundation staff will significantly enhance Job Club RI's visibility in our regional community, so that ultimately more unemployed professionals can become aware of and benefit from the help we offer. For this, we are extremely thankful,” said Colella, a disability reviewer within UMass Medical School’s Disability Evaluation Services.

“Work is more than a paycheck. It is an important part of how we define ourselves and our self-worth. Volunteerism gives me the chance to be a ‘worker in the vineyard,’ utilizing the gifts and talents God has given me to assist others in finding meaningful, living wage employment.”

The Myra Kraft Community MVP award program was launched this year by the Foundation in an effort to honor and celebrate individuals that commit their lives to volunteerism. Colella was one of 26 volunteers celebrated at the luncheon, where grants were also awarded.  

In addition to Kraft, Foundation President Joshua Kraft and Patriots and Pro Football Hall of Famer and Patriots Executive Director of Community Affairs Andre Tippett were on hand to offer congratulations. Patriots players Tom Brady, Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski also made a surprise appearance.

“When I purchased the New England Patriots 23 years ago, not only did we set out to build a winning organization, but we also wanted to help build a spirit of giving amongst our fans," Kraft said in a statement.

"There are some incredible people in our local communities that have dedicated much of their lives to volunteering. In creating the Myra Kraft Community MVP Awards, we wanted to show our appreciation for these outstanding community advocates and offer our support to the causes that are so near and dear to their hearts. We admire their selflessness and thank them for their commitment to making the world a better place."

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