Sacred Heart senior wins community service award from NFL team

Fairfield-filanowski

Sacred Heart University senior Taylor Filanowski was honored in June 2013 with a community service award from the NFL’s New England Patriots. Shown, from left, are Pro Football Hall of Famer Andre Tippett, Patriot Vince Wilfork, Filanowski and Patriot Tom Brady. (New England Patriots photo)

Sacred Heart University senior Taylor Filanowski was honored this summer with a community service award from the NFL’s New England Patriots.

Filanowski, a marketing major from Naugatuck, volunteers regularly with Habitat for Humanity, Bridgeport-area soup kitchens, churches, schools and more. For her dedication to helping the less fortunate, the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation awarded her a third-place prize in the Myra Kraft Community MVP Awards.

“Taylor is a very focused student who is dedicated to civic education and to her leadership role at Sacred Heart, so I wasn’t surprised at all to hear she has earned this honor,” said Matthew Kaye, Sacred Heart’s director of Volunteer Programs and Service Learning. “Taylor winning this award validates our students’ engagement with the community. It exemplifies how seriously the university takes its mission and materializes it in our students’ actions.”

The award included $5,000 for Sacred Heart’s Community Connections program, which is led by senior students and provides an introduction to various service opportunities in the surrounding community and increases students’ understanding of urban issues.

Filanowski has worked with Community Connections as a volunteer and as a work-study student since her freshman year. She considers the program her favorite part of attending Sacred Heart.

“The opportunities that Sacred Heart has offered me to volunteer and just dive into service is pretty much why I’m at the school,” she said. “I do service with all of my friends at Sacred Heart. I work with Habitat because of Sacred Heart, and I got offered the award because of Sacred Heart, so I’m very thankful for all the opportunities that they’ve brought to me. Community service is a big part of the culture here.”

Filanowski brought her friend, Sacred Heart senior biology major Nicole Mieczkowski, as a guest to the award ceremony at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. She credits Mieczkowski with getting her involved with community service.

“Nicole constantly pushed me and supported me in trying all these new different service opportunities,” Filanowski said. “I was so thankful that I had her to support me and to help get me where I am today.”

On hand to congratulate the award winners was Patriots Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Robert Kraft; New England Patriots Charitable Foundation President Joshua Kraft; Andre Tippett, pro football and Patriots hall of famer and Patriots executive director of Community Affairs; Patriots quarterback Tom Brady; kicker Stephen Gostkowski; punter Zoltan Mesko and defensive lineman Vince Wilfork.

The Myra Kraft Community MVP Awards honor individuals who exemplify leadership, dedication and a commitment to improving their communities through volunteerism. Through the program, nonprofit organizations throughout New England have the opportunity to reward their hard-working volunteers for the invaluable time and support they provide to their communities. Myra Kraft, who passed away in 2011, was the wife of Robert Kraft. These awards were renamed in her honor, as Myra volunteered  throughout her life to support children and families around the world.

The New England Patriots Charitable Foundation is the nonprofit organization established by the Kraft family in 1994 to support charitable and philanthropic agencies throughout New England.

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