Be The Change/ Project Hand Up named Red Sox Foundation 2019 Impact Award winner

Pictured above: Be The Change volunteers Mary Hassell and Megan O’Connor, founder Coreen St. Jean, and volunteer Mindy Horan.

WEST WARWICK — Coreen St. Jean was nearly speechless Friday, shortly after learning that, with 71,656 votes, her nonprofit would be the recipient of a $10,000 check from the Red Sox Foundation.  

“It’s so heartwarming to know all these people are behind me,” said St. Jean, founder of Be The Change/ Project Hand Up, adding that she hardly slept a wink Thursday night after receiving the news that her organization had won the award. 

“I’m overwhelmed,” she continued. “All I can say is thank you, from the bottom of my heart.”

Given annually to nonprofits across New England, the Impact Award recognizes organizations that have made positive impacts on health and wellness in their communities. Grant winners are determined based on votes, with first, second and third place winners named in each state except Massachusetts.

Having been anonymously nominated, Be The Change/ Project Hand Up was among five Rhode Island organizations in the running for the award. And in the end, the West Warwick-based charity surpassed the next highest vote-getter by nearly 8,000 votes. 

It’s all thanks to St. Jean’s “fabulous supporters,” she said.

“My volunteers and the people who come here to shop, and the people who support us, our donors, everyone,” she said. “We couldn’t have done it otherwise.”

In return for the overwhelming support, the $10,000 check will go a long way in helping St. Jean’s organization to support those who need help making ends meet. 

“I know that we’re going to be able to help many, many more people,” St. Jean said. 

While it receives regular donations from a number of supermarkets and restaurants — among them, Ocean State Job Lot, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Panera Bread, Stop and Shop and Roch’s — Be The Change/ Project Hand Up is left to purchase much of its own produce and meat. 

“We’re going to be able to fill our shelves, we’re going to be able to buy meat,” St. Jean said, adding that some of the money may even be put toward a new walk-in refrigerator, which would enable the organization to store more food. 

And to be receiving a grant from the Red Sox Foundation, she said, is an added bonus. 

“I don’t even know how to describe how I’m feeling,” said St. Jean, who added that she’s “absolutely” a fan of the Red Sox. 

“For us to be involved with the Red Sox,” she continued, “that is just over the top.”

St. Jean will be presented a check on the field at Fenway Park on Sept. 5. And although she won’t be able to bring others onto the field with her, St. Jean said she wishes she could have others join her in accepting the award.

“It’s not about me,” she said. “It’s about all of us.”

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