Patriots owner Robert Kraft and members of the team's Women's Association continued the work of an amazing woman, the late Myra Kraft, last Thursday, October 29, at The Women's Lunch Place. Kristen LaFell, Chantel Mayo, Linda Holliday, and other Patriots wives and girlfriends joined Mr. Kraft in preparing and serving lunch for the women at the shelter, a place that provides food and other important services to the homeless or poor in the community. It is a spot that was near and dear to Mrs. Kraft, who was still serving lunch there in October of 2010, despite being diagnosed with ovarian cancer earlier in the year.
"I am a firm believer that if you are given something, it is your responsibility to give back,” Mrs. Kraft once said to her alma mater, Brandeis University.
She lived her life according to that decree, not only giving financially to a number of causes — Jewish organizations worldwide, medical causes, and youth groups — but volunteering her time. The impact she made on her immediate family, the Boston community, and countless other areas is a model example of the way women in the NFL can rise to influence.
While Mrs. Kraft committed to charity well before her husband bought the Patriots in 1994, the way she used all of the platforms she was given throughout her life is a wonderful example of how the women of today's NFL players, coaches, and executives can do the same.
Bianca Wilfork, wife of 12-year veteran Vince Wilfork, participated in the annual trips to The Women's Lunch Place until her husband signed with the Houston Texans this past offseason.
"The women are not eating steak and they're not eating lobster," Bianca said of The Women's Lunch Place. ”The volunteers make gourmet-tasting meals with little resources. With just the money they get from donations and food from the food bank, they're able to create well-rounded, healthy and delicious meals. I like to be part of that."
While events like this may get lost amidst week-to-week football news, NFL women across the country are making a difference. The impact of trips to shelters, schools, and other charities resonates throughout individual communities, held in place by strong women and legacies like those of the late Mrs. Kraft.
The Women's Lunch Place executive director, Elizabeth Keeley, appreciates the donations from Mr. Kraft and the Patriots, but their willingness to spend time with the women who eat there means even more.
"Yes, they love the goodie bags and they appreciate the thought and the generosity but it's really about having people that they read about and see on television come here to their community, come here and sit down and do crafts with them or work in the kitchen,” she told Patriots.com. "Those that have phones are tweeting and texting and saying, ‘Guess who's here in my shelter, in my community!'”