Jennifer Raphael-Guzman, Professional Parent Program Win NAFI Rhode Island Spirit of the Community Award

November 26, 2019

Jennifer Raphael-Guzman, Director of the Ridge Street group home for adolescent boys in Pawtucket, R.I., received the NAFI Rhode Island Spirit of the Community award at the North American Family Institute’s recent annual conference.

The Program Spirit Of The Community Award was given to NAFI Rhode Island’s foster care Professional Parent Program.

“The selfless and tireless work by our NAFI staff in Rhode Island is truly impressive,” said Lynn Bishop, Executive Director for NAFI CT/RI. “As the award citations make clear, the positive impact of these inspiring people is often life-changing.”

The awards were formatted so that winners’ attributes were described before their names were announced. In giving the Spirit of the Community award to Raphael-Guzman, Ms. Bishop said:

It’s those people who quietly do their job, without question, without attention who often get the least recognition. This person is just that, quiet, competent and dedicated. She has worked for NAFI for just 2 years and in that time she has never expected accolades or acknowledgement. Instead, she quietly gets the job done, she quietly puts out endless fires all day long, and she quietly ensures that her program is successful.

Jennifer Raphael-Guzman receives her Spirit of the Community Award from Lynn Bishop

This person has worked tirelessly through several transitions and times of growth in their program. Even on days when she felt like giving up, she put a smile on her face and genuinely gave her team what they needed most … support, reassurance, care, and time.

What stands out most about this person is that she has worked day and night (literally), while wearing multiple hats … leader, teacher, support staff, clinician, cook and chauffeur, never missing a beat. She has made her mark over the last 2 years, and while some may think she is quiet, she is a force to be reckoned with. She is well respected in her community by her peers and by the adolescent girls she works with daily. She would quietly do anything to help others be successful. She has weathered the many changes at the Ridge Street program on both a state and agency level, all while quietly accepting and rolling with the changes. As the Director of the RI Ridge Street program, she lives the mission each day and truly believes that every child matters.

In celebrating the Rhode Island foster care Professional Parent Program for consistently and continually demonstrating the spirit of the NAFI community, Bishop said, in part:

Over the past few years, NAFI RI has experienced a great deal of change … [but] this team has endured and because of these changes they have become a stronger community. They are a positive team who focuses on the importance of kids and families, they are resilient and are willing to give chances and to work hard despite the challenges they face. They rely on one another for support and when that one case they’re working on hits a nerve and is hard and sad, this team rallies around each other to make sense of it all. All this while still understanding the importance of making a difference in the lives of children. …

Employees from the Professional Parent Program (PPP) accept the Spirit of the Community award from NAFI President, Dr. Yitzhak Bakal

… Ashley Moniz is a powerhouse, a strong leader of the program who states her mind, and knows all the intricate ins and outs of the foster care world. A program can only be as successful as the people involved—from the leadership, the case managers, recruiters and home finders, I couldn’t be more proud of this staff. They work hard, they are dedicated, and they support each other. … They are a group of people who like to have fun, who appreciate and take care of each other, and who believe in the mission that every child deserves a home.

The North American Family Institute (NAFI/NFI) annual conference, 45 Years! Shaping Our Future – Empowered By Our Past, was held Oct. 22 to 24 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Boston North Shore in Danvers, Mass. Staff from Maine to Florida attended.

“I can say with confidence that NAFI/NFI at forty-five years old is as vibrant and mission-driven as it ever has been,” Dr. Yitzhak Bakal, President of NAFI/NFI, said in a message following the conference. “Your warm and enthusiastic participation makes our gathering joyful and memorable. I feel proud and energized by our reunion and I hope that you are carrying back with you a renewed sense of commitment to our noble mission.”

Founded in 1974, NAFI/NFI is a private, nonprofit human services agency serving eight states with community-based care for children, youth and adults with mental health and/or behavioral issues. Programming and services are designed around the Normative Community Approach, which emphasizes the ability of all people to achieve positive change when they are members of a community united in mission and purpose.

NAFI CT/RI provides programming, consultation, and individualized support services to youth, families, and adults in a variety of settings. Core services include foster care, developmental services, residential treatment, and in-home services and consultations.

To learn more, call NAFI CT at 860.284.1177 or see the website at