Main menu

Alumnus Joe Markarian Honored

Watertown's Joe Markarian wins $25k grant for Perkins School

August 2013

WATERTOWN—At 93 years old, Markarian is the longest-serving volunteer at Perkins School of the Blind, totaling more than 13,500 volunteer hours spanning 26 years. Recently, he was awarded a $25,000 grant to the Perkins School through the Myra Kraft Community MVP Awards and the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation for his service. On Tuesday, he was the guest of honor at Perkins for an on-campus ceremony.

Annually, the Kraft family and New England Patriots Charitable Foundation host the Myra Kraft Community MVP Awards. The ceremony places a spotlight on those who give their time to help others and exemplify leadership, dedication and a commitment to improving their communities through volunteerism.

In June honorees were recognized for their contributions in a ceremony at Gillette Stadium and received grants for their respective nonprofit organizations. Fifteen New England based organizations were presented with a $5,000 grant  in honor of their volunteers’ work with 10 more receiving grants of $10,000 and one grand prize winner of $25,000.

“Perkins has done more for me than I have ever done for Perkins,” said Markarian. “Volunteering in the Assistive Device Center has given me the opportunity to feel like I have contributed to something important during my retirement years. I feel really honored and surprised by this recognition.”

At 93 years old, Markarian is the longest-serving volunteer at Perkins School of the Blind, totaling more than 13,500 volunteer hours spanning 26 years. When retiring as a music teacher, he sought an opportunity to combine his love for education with his passion for construction to serve others. Harnessing his creative construction abilities, he leads a team of volunteers to engineer and create more than 800 cardboard carpentry toys and materials that are used by individuals who are blind, deaf blind or visually impaired with other disabilities, which help enable them to build more productive and meaningful lives.

Through his volunteerism, he turns the therapists and teachers’ ideas into realities, and in doing so, allows students not only to get the devices they need to live full and independent lives, but to trade their unattractive, often ill-fitting medical devices for far more brightly colored, fun and  custom-fit alternatives.

He is a role model for the scores of other volunteers who have learned from him and they would readily admit that he taught them everything they know about the unique building technique.

Through his quiet, humble and unassuming leadership, he is the first to tell you that his volunteerism has done far more for him than those he has served.

“Joe is wonderful,” remarked Molly Campbell, Joe’s supervisor at the Assistive Device Center. “Over the 26 years that he has worked in the Assistive Device Center, he has made literally hundreds of pieces of cardboard furniture to help position toddlers as well as some older children. He continues to get better and better at his craft. Joe is an even tempered flexible veteran who has taught many new volunteers the tricks of constructing with corrugated material.  We are so lucky to have him!”

“It is quite an honor to receive this recognition from an organization as well known and exciting as the New England Patriots. Thank you Myra Kraft for your altruism.”

On Tuesday, former Patriots linebacker Eric Alexander and Patriots Charitable Foundation representatives spent the morning building and painting assistive learning devices with Markarian

Following the building project, Alexander and Patriots Charitable Foundation presented him with a commemorative check for $25,000, which has been awarded in Markarian’s name to Perkins School for the Blind.

Fifteen New England based organizations were presented with a $5,000 grant  in honor of their volunteers’ work with 10 more receiving grants of $10,000 and one grand prize winner of $25,000. In 2013, the Kraft family doubled the grant amounts to $200,000 as part of the Patriots Marathon Team record-breaking fundraising in support of the program.

“Volunteers are the unsung heroes of our communities,” said Robert Kraft.  “Unfortunately, they often go unrecognized for their contributions. These awards give us a chance to thank and recognize them. What I love most about this event is the touching stories and the opportunity to show a small token of our appreciation to these outstanding individuals.”

View original article here.

Photo Courtesy of New England Patriots

Back to top