NAFI Spirit of the Community Awards for RI, CT and NY

March 15, 2022
Anne-Marie Lema

The NAFI Connecticut, Inc., NAFI Rhode Island, and NAFI New York community recently honored the 2021 Spirit of the Community Award winners as part of a virtual Town Hall meeting.

Joseph Matcham, a foster care Independent Living Specialist for NAFI NY, received a Spirit of the Community Award “for all that we love about you.”

“Oh my goodness,” he said in the awards video posted to Facebook. “I cannot believe this.”

Anne-Marie Lema, an administrative assistant in the Rhode Island office, was honored as a “true asset” to the team, known for her dedication and for her willingness to help.

NAFI Spirit of the Community awards
Joseph Matcham

Donna Thomas, a group home Adolescent Specialist (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy; DBT) in Connecticut also received a Spirit of the Community Award.

Additionally, all 12 congregate care facilities in the three states were recognized as one collective team. “These are the people on the front lines who truly exhibit and live the spirit of the NAFI community,” the award citation said.

“We want to thank all of our staff for your dedication and outstanding work,” said Dr. Yitzhak Bakal, President and Founder of NAFI/NFI, which has operations in eight states.

NAFI Spirit of the Community awards
Donna Thomas

“The Spirit of the Community Awards are critical to sustaining our culture of excellence, to always keeping our clients front and center, and, most important, to acknowledging staff who are NAFI/NFI’s true culture bearers,” noted the introduction to the awards video.

While the Spirit of the Community Awards recognize staff members across the entirety of NAFI, individual state operations also hand out staff awards each year that recognize and celebrate employees for outstanding work they do in providing the highest level of innovative human and social services to individuals and families.

Lynn Bishop, Executive Director of NAFI operations in ConnecticutRhode Island and New York, announced the 2021 staff award winners late last year.

See the stories on the Connecticut honorees, as well as
the Rhode Island winners and New York winners


NAFI CT, NY, and RI are part of the North American Family Institute, a private, nonprofit human service agency specializing in community-based care for children, youth and adults with mental health and/or behavioral issues founded in 1974. 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. Together, we empower individuals to maximize their independence and succeed in the future.