House of Hope volunteers recognized for best practices


"It’s always nice to win an award, but what’s great about this one is it honors the men and women in our programs," Jean Johnson, executive director for the House of Hope CDC, said Tuesday. “This recognizes all of their hard work. Even in their lowest moments they still want to help others, to have a way to give back to the community.”

On Tuesday Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI), in Partnership with the Rhode Island Foundation and its Initiative for Nonprofit Excellence (INE), hosted the 5th Annual Best Practices Awards. Awards are distributed in five categories: collaboration, communication, innovation, leadership and volunteer engagement.

Jill Pfitzenmayer, vice president of INE, said it is a “highly competitive process” to be honored at the Best Practices Awards.

“There is something in each of their remarkable achievements that can help any nonprofit become even more effective,” she said.

President and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation Neil Steinberg said there is a lot of good non-profit work happening throughout the state, but in acknowledging the “best practices” in the innovative honorees, non-profits can “grow their organizations and build on this success.”

“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,” Peter Andruszkiewicz, president and CEO of BCBSRI.

House of Hope received the Best Practices Award with a $1,000 check for volunteer engagement for their peer mentor program.

The peer mentor program, which began last July, has House of Hope members participate in a six-week training covering topics such as first aid, conflict resolution, mental health 101 and more. These volunteers are integrated into the organization’s service provision. Graduates leave the program with a certification and the opportunity to continue interning with House of Hope. To date, 26 participants have graduated the program, five of which have been hired by House of Hope.

“The best way to help people out of homelessness is to have them be part of the solution,” Johnson said. “Our peer mentors work selflessly, day and night, with our shelter residents at Harrington Hall and within the community to create a positive change in the lives of the homeless.”

She said that to have the program honored in such a way lets the peer mentor know someone is “paying attention,” recognizing all their hard work, and believe in their self-worth.

The other winners were Grow Smart RI for communications, Newport County Community Mental Health Center for leadership, Partnership for Providence Parks for collaboration and the Sojourner House for innovation.

For more information on the House of Hope CDC and their peer mentor program visit


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