Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft, President of the New England Patriots Foundation Josh Kraft, Patriots Executive Director of Community Affairs Andre Tippett and Procter & Gamble’s Vice President of Communications and Community Affairs, Global Grooming, Kara Buckley take a group photo with the 2024 Myra Kraft Community MVP Award winners at Gillette Stadium on June 6.
Reminder Publishing submitted photo

LONGMEADOW — Two Longmeadow residents were honored by the New England Patriots Foundation for their volunteer work — one around food insecurity and the other in animal health.

The 2024 Myra Kraft Community MVP Award winners included 26 people from around the region, 25 of whom each received a $10,000 donation to their nonprofit. This year’s grand prize, Ricky Inc., received $25,000.

“Every year, nonprofit organizations across New England put forth candidates that demonstrate what volunteerism and giving back truly is and who represent the very best of our community,” said Robert Kraft, chairman and CEO of the Patriots. “My late wife Myra, of blessed memory, was passionate about giving back and making a difference in people’s lives. I am proud to see her legacy of volunteerism upheld through these awards, celebrating those who selflessly serve their communities as true Community MVPs.”

Glenn Shapiro was one of the honorees. Shapiro and his wife, Nancy Shapiro, co-founded KodiakCare, a nonprofit that works with nearly a dozen animal hospitals and humane societies around the country to pay for the life-saving healthcare of dogs in need. Dakin Humane Society in Springfield is the most recent partner to work with KodiakCare, receiving $20,000 from the organization to help offset the cost of veterinary surgeries and treatments for families who cannot afford it.

KodiakCare has managed to save more than 750 dogs. If a patient comes to one of the organization’s veterinary partners for care that is needed to save the dog’s life, but the family cannot afford it, the health care provider will absorb a portion of the bill, the owner will pay what they are able and KodiakCare takes care of the rest up to a $3,000 cap. Shapiro said it usually works out to about one-third of the bill for each party.

With an average bill of $1,300 per dog, Shapiro estimated that the $10,000 donation will save seven dogs.

“The human-animal bond. Of all the things you can do for someone who’s not well off, [one of] the most important is [to] save their dog,” Shapiro said. “We help humans by helping their dogs.”

Steve Lepow is another Longmeadow resident who was honored, in his case, for the work he has done with Rachel’s Table of Western Massachusetts.

Founded in 1992 by the Women’s Philanthropy Division Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts, Rachel’s Table is now its own nonrprofit, rescueing food that would otherwise be wasted and helping alleviate hunger throughout the Pioneer Valley. In 2023, they rescued 700,000 pounds of food.

Lepow is a leader in the van operations task force, where he recruits and trains drivers and delivers nutrient-dense food to those in need.

“I have found it very gratifying to serve the communities of Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties to help with the battle against food insecurity,” Lepow said in a press release. “The community in Western Massachusetts sees us as an organization with Jewish roots working together across all faiths, backgrounds, and beliefs, making a difference together. Volunteers drive the work, literally, of Rachel’s Table of Western Massachusetts, and I am honored to be working alongside so many MVPs on our team.”

To learn more about KodiakCare, visit kodiakcare.org. For information on Rachel’s Table, visit feedwma.org.
More about the Myra Kraft Community MVP Awards, can be found at patriots.com/community.