Students receive surprise gift from Patriot's Matthew Slater, Corey C. Griffin Foundation
BOSTON -- Almost 2,000 children from Catholic schools and local nonprofits were invited to a special event at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on Dec. 6, where they learned they would be receiving an early Christmas present.
Following a talk by New England Patriots captain Matthew Slater, it was announced that each child would receive a new Chromebook laptop or a STEM magnetic puzzle.
The event was organized by the Corey C. Griffin Foundation as part of their Corey's Kids initiative. The foundation partners with Boston nonprofits that serve underprivileged youth. It was established in memory of Corey Griffin, who died in 2014 at the age of 27.
Among the groups present were children from the Ron Burton Training Village; the Boston Police Athletic League; Trinity Catholic Academy in Brockton; Lawrence Catholic Academy; and the Neponset, Lower Mills, and Columbia campuses of St. John Paul II Academy.
Archdiocesan Senior Development Officer Arthur Boyle was present for the event and noted that most of the students had never seen the cathedral, and some had never even gone on a field trip before.
"When they were walking in the doors, the acclamation and excitement was unbelievable to see," he said, speaking with The Pilot the following day.
Rob Griffin, Corey Griffin's father, and Chandra Clark, the foundation's new CEO and president, both offered welcoming remarks.
Clark said that like many of them, she grew up in "very adverse, uncertain circumstances," but her life was transformed when she had an advocate and mentor. She assured the students that she is committed to working with them, their families, and their communities to help them reach their dreams.
"The Corey C. Griffin Foundation loves, values, and celebrates each of you. You are destined for greatness. You will achieve great things. And you have an organization that is always on the sidelines rooting for you," Clark told the students.
Slater was greeted with enthusiastic applause as he went up to the cathedral ambo for his talk. Tying it in with the Christmas season, he spoke about the importance of joy, truth, and relationships.
He admitted that because he has been playing professional football for so long, "it's sometimes easy for me to forget the dream I had when I was sitting in your seats. I lose my joy for what I'm doing."
He said that the "true joy" in his life comes from his relationship with Christ, which is "the biggest gift that I've ever been given."
"It's the relationship that I have with Christ that allows me to be joyful, because it gives me hope," Slater said.
He urged the students to maintain their joyful spirit and not lose it as they grow older.
He also spoke about the power of truth. He said that for him, the Christmas season is about the truth of the Gospel.
"It's about the truth that Christ came to restore me back to him, to bridge the gap," Slater said.
He warned that social media can "paint a picture about life that isn't always accurate," telling people how they should be, think, and act.
"I want you guys to hold on to the truth about who you are. And this is the truth about who you are: You were made by God; God loves you; he has made each and every one of you special in your own way; and he is writing a story with your lives," Slater said.
He said that rooting oneself in truth starts with Christ, but also goes beyond that.
"It goes to the way you think about yourself, the way you talk about yourself, the people you surround yourself with," he said.
Finally, he emphasized the importance of relationships, encouraging the students to invest in each other.
"Life is too hard for us to try to navigate it by ourselves. I don't think any of us should try to pursue any endeavor on our own. I think we want to surround ourselves with people who can support us, and help us pursue truth in our lives, help us keep joy in our lives. So I encourage you to not only find that type of friends, but to be that type of friend as well for the people around you," Slater said.
He said that when he looks at the struggles of Boston's community, the problem he sees is "a lack of real relationships where people love each other and are vested in one another's best interests."
"If we really want to see change, it starts on a human-to-human level, the way we connect with each other, the way we relate to one another," Slater said.
He said he expected the students to impact communities across the country.
"Let's not forget the joy of Christmas, let's not forget the truth of Christmas, and let's not forget that we all matter in the greater story. Let's love one another well," he said in closing.
After Slater's talk, volunteers distributed Chromebooks and magnet puzzles to the students. Two girls led a sing-along of Christmas songs while the groups waited to be called.
More information about the Corey C. Griffin Foundation is available on their website, www.coreycgriffinfoundation.org.