We are incredibly proud that one of our longest-serving Teen Speakers, Elizabeth Keeling, was chosen for a 2019 Myra Kraft Community Award from the New England Patriots Foundation! In addition to being honored, Elizabeth won a $10,000 grant to support Families for Depression Awareness’ work! We are thankful to her for her selfless contributions to the organization and for working so hard to help other young people understand mood disorders and seek treatment.
Here is an excerpt from the press release about the event and Elizabeth’s award.
Every year since 1998, the Kraft family and the New England Patriots have been celebrating those who give their time to help others. The program was originally known as the Community Quarterback Awards and were presented to those who exemplify leadership, dedication and a commitment to improving their communities through volunteerism.
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 Tuesday, Aug. 20, 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 event has always been one of my favorites because it not only highlights the organization that is positively impacting the lives of others in our communities, but it also allows us to shine a spotlight on each organization’s most-deserving volunteer,” said Robert Kraft. “The stories describing the many volunteers who are nominated each year are inspirational. They serve as a reminder of how much good there really is in the world and how committed some people are to making their community a better place.”
Elizabeth Keeling of Taunton, Mass. was selected as one of this year’s $10,000 winners for her volunteer efforts at Families for Depression Awareness in Waltham, Mass.
Since her early teen years, Elizabeth has struggled with severe, treatment-resistant depression and anxiety. Four years ago, she started volunteering with Families for Depression Awareness and at first, she was very hesitant to share her story.
Over time, she began to open up more about her experiences and through the teen depression program, she works with teens and young adults, preparing and supporting them to share their personal stories with their peers. This program helps to eliminate the social stigma of mental health conditions among teens, increases help-seeking behavior and prevents teen suicides.
Elizabeth has led group discussions of all sizes and has presented at statewide conference, helping to educate and inspire local teens. She has developed into a reliable source of feedback to the organization while also maintaining the program’s stability.
“I am an individual who struggles with treatment-resistant depression,” said Elizabeth. “This means that I will most likely suffer from feelings of sadness, hopelessness, lack of pleasure, and underlying dread for the rest of my life with little to no relief. This makes it incredibly difficult to find the strength to keep going. Volunteering is one of the few things that provides me this strength. Giving back to others gives me a sense of purpose, and reminds me that I have value because I’m making a positive difference in the lives of others.”
“It is a tremendous honor to have the work of our volunteer, Elizabeth Keeling, recognized with a Myra Kraft Community MVP Award,” said Valerie Cordero, Co-Executive Director of Families for Depression Awareness. Elizabeth has transformed into one of our strongest volunteers and has become a leader in the organization. She is a beacon of hope to her peers and an inspiration to all of us.”
Elizabeth utilizes her knowledge of the program and her passion for the mission to inspire the community, while also supporting organizational development and growth.
“They have an incredibly meaningful mission that I am more than proud to be a part of,” said Elizabeth. “Receiving this award, which will allow them to continue their mission, overwhelms me with joy. I am so honored to have been chosen for it.”