PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island Foundation awarded its 2016 Best Practice awards to GrowSmartRI, House of Hope Community Development Corp., Newport County Community Mental Health Center, Partnership for Providence Parks and Sojourner House in an event held at Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island’s Providence campus Tuesday.
Recipients will receive a $1,000 grant, promotional footage of their work and a tuition waiver to any of the foundation’s Initiative for Nonprofit Excellence professional development workshops or seminars in the next year.
Jill Pfitzenmayer, vice president of the foundation’s INE, said this year’s recipients were chosen from a competitive and talented pool.
“There is something in each of their remarkable achievements that can help any nonprofit become even more effective,” she said.
Best practice awards are sponsored by BCBSRI and recognize Rhode Island nonprofit organizations which have excelled in areas of collaboration, communication, innovation, leadership and volunteer engagement.
Speaking for the company, Peter Andruszkiewicz, president and CEO of BCBSRI, said as a nonprofit, the foundation’s awards have a “special meaning.”
“These awards are a great example of what it means to work as a team. By working together and learning from each other, we can make incredible positive change in the lives of every Rhode Islander,” he said.
The 2016 Communications Award was presented to GrowSmartRI for its #ShareCommunity campaign, a digital storytelling initiative focusing on the strengths of the state.
Scott Wolf, the organization’s executive director, said they were thankful.
“We’re very grateful to the Rhode Island Foundation and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island for recognizing our media campaign to highlight Rhode Island’s many underappreciated assets and help all of us be more effective ambassadors for our outstanding state,” he said.
House of Hope Community Development Corp. won the Volunteer Engagement Award for its unique integration of volunteer support into operations within the agency while maintaining client priority.
House of Hope executive director Jean Johnson said the organization’s volunteers are selfless.
“By empowering our peer mentors, many of whom have struggled with homelessness themselves, they gain newfound self-worth and self-respect in knowing that they are making a difference in the lives of others,” she said.
This year’s Leadership Award was presented to the Newport County Community Mental Health Center for its strategic business plan which enhances and diversifies clinical services and partnerships, addresses expanding and sustaining revenue, and touches on workforce development, branding, marketing, outreach and communication.
James Lehane, president and CEO, said the award was a “tremendous honor.” He went on to say: “Our board members and leadership staff have worked very hard this year to expand and improve our services in a way that promotes excellence and immediate access to care.”
Partnership for Providence Parks received the Collaboration Award for its PlayCorps initiative, a partnership between Providence Children’s Museum and the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation and Health Communities Office to provide a free summer meal program and play opportunities at seven Providence parks in high-risk neighborhoods.
Helene Miller, the organization’s executive director, said: “As a group, we believe PlayCorps brings together best practices from each of our organizations to facilitate the highest quality, open-ended and creative educational programing in combination with free summer meals. A community is created around play and sharing healthy meals.”
The 2016 Innovation Award was presented to Sojourner House for its support of immigrant domestic violence victims, the only organization in the state to do so.
“Unique barriers,” are faced by immigrants who experience domestic violence, said Executive Director Vanessa Volz.
“Due to a victim’s immigration status, an abusive partner may use specific tactics to exert power and control over them. Our immigration program provides these clients with critical, life-saving legal advocacy, and we’re honored that the program is being recognized for the service that it provides to the community,” she said.