Sojourner House – the only Rhode Island agency to receive a portion of the 3-part gift from the franchise totaling $1.5 million – will use the funds to support its transitional housing program
The New England Patriots Help Sojourner House Gain Yards with a $100,000 Gift
[Providence, RI – September 15, 2015] Last week, on Thursday, September 10, the 2015 NFL season began. The annual kickoff game would feature defending Super Bowl XLIX champion the New England Patriots hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers on NBC in front of 27.4 million fans.
For Vanessa Volz, Executive Director of Sojourner House, a comprehensive domestic violence agency serving Providence and Northern Rhode Island, the day would seemingly be like any other in the life of a nonprofit leader – busy, challenging, but rewarding.
As September 10 brought excitement for the millions of fans across the world who waited impatiently for their teams to take the field, the day also brought an unexpected surprise for Volz – a personal phone call from New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft.
Robert Kraft was calling to personally relay the exciting news that the New England Patriots will be bestowing a $50,000 gift to Sojourner House this fall – with a pledge to make a second donation in 2016 of a matching gift of up to another $50,000, for a total of $100,000.
As Kraft described over the phone, the Patriots organization has decided to make a commitment to funding domestic violence programs. The franchise has made a total gift of $1.5 million, distributed in three parts. It is evident that the organization carefully considered how to administer the total gift so that multiple critical areas of the work will receive support.
The first part of the gift is going toward funding the direct service advocacy of local domestic violence agencies. Sojourner House, one of the five organizations to receive a gift in this tier, is the only Rhode Island recipient, with the other four agencies serving Massachusetts.
The second part of the gift will support the systems change work of Jane Doe Inc., the statewide domestic violence coalition in Massachusetts that advocates for responsive public policy, raises public awareness, and strives to create social change. The third part consists of a gift to the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General to fund prevention.
“We are very grateful to the New England Patriots for this generous gift and proud that Sojourner House has been hand-picked as the only Rhode Island agency to receive this funding,” said Vanessa Volz. “Since the Ray Rice case brought the issue of domestic violence to the forefront nationally, advocates, allies, and survivors have been demanding change from the NFL. It was encouraging to receive a direct call from Robert Kraft, one of the most high-profile owners in the league. We need this type of community-level engagement in order to end domestic violence and sexual assault.”
The gift will go toward supporting Sojourner House’s transitional housing program. With this funding, Sojourner House will be able to acquire three additional transitional housing apartments and hire another case manager to provide specialized support services for each client.
And that’s not all – every spring, Sojourner House runs the “100 Campaign” with a goal of raising funds to support its transitional housing program and the individuals and families it serves. Next year, in the spring of 2016, Sojourner House will launch a special fundraising campaign to celebrate its 40th anniversary with the goal of raising $50,000. If Sojourner House does so successfully, the New England Patriots will match that amount with a second gift of $50,000!
“Our transitional housing program allows survivors of domestic violence and their children to live in their own space while receiving the services they need to rebuild their lives and stay safe,” said Volz. “Robert Kraft has made it clear that his organization is passionate about supporting local grassroots domestic violence agencies that are on the ground doing the vital work of serving those impacted by domestic abuse. We are so pleased that they have recognized Sojourner House and thankful to be able to continue providing this much-needed program.”
October is national Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Supporters can get involved in Sojourner House’s many events and initiatives throughout the month. Visit www.facebook.com/sojournerri for details.