A commemorative clock sits on a white table

Community Resources for Justice recently held its annual awards event, giving special recognition to six outstanding employees who went above and beyond during the last year.

President and CEO Deb O’Brien presented the awards on Nov. 4, recognizing employees who, through their hard work, show their dedication to the qualities that are the cornerstones of CRJ’s mission: integrity, excellence, creativity, and compassion. For the second straight year, the awards event was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jonathan Barbeau, assistant director of information technology, received the 2021 CEO Award, which recognizes an employee whose high quality and top level job performance demonstrates integrity, compassion, creativity, and excellence. Jonathan has been dedicated to overhauling CRJ’s network security, working long hours to rework and improve the network.

Rachel Medrano, program nurse for Community Strategies, received the Compassion Award, which recognizes an employee who demonstrates through direct practice or professional service to others care, kindness, and empathy in a manner that honors an environment that is safe, just, and inclusive. Rachel Invests in, listens to, spends time with, and advocates for clients. She created guidelines and educational materials on COVID-19 while dealing with complications from the pandemic in the house she serves. She oversees services for more than 60 individuals and is on-call 24/7 every day except for six days a month.

Katie Zafft, a manager at the Crime and Justice Institute, received the Creativity Award, which recognizes an employee who demonstrates through direct practice or professional service to others imagination, resourcefulness, and innovation in overcoming problems or creating new models of policy, care, or support. Katie volunteered to develop resources and structures to support staff in utilization of SharePoint; developed and uploaded a new role clarification process; and took on a lead role in CJI diversity, equity, and inclusion group.

Lorainne Rodriguez, intake release coordinator at Houston House, received the Excellence Award. Lorainne has been with Houston House since it was opened. She is always on time, reliable, positive, and willing to step up and help others in any position, whether it’s mentoring/training new program monitors or people in higher level positions. She has covered extra shifts and assisted with the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) audit, helping the program be 100% compliant.

Michael Pinto, payroll manager, received the Integrity Award, which recognizes an employee who demonstrates through direct practice or professional service to others the qualities of dependability, reliability, and honesty in a manner that sets a high standard for themselves and others around them. For almost three years Michael operated both as the payroll manager and payroll coordinator. His number-one goal is to get everyone paid on time and process our bi-weekly payroll with as few errors as possible. From learning a new system to having to increase from two to four payrolls a month with the onboarding of Family ReEntry, Michael’s dedication and commitment to his role has never wavered.

Nana Amonoo-Afari, a residential counselor in the Community Strategies home in Northborough, Mass., received the Kossivi Star Award, which recognizes and employee who consistently goes above and beyond for their clients, teammates, program, or department. This employee sets a new standard when it comes to teamwork, flexibility, and overall performance. Nana is always stepping up to help Northborough and other programs. He is reliable, takes new staff under his wing, and advocates for clients. Nana was a very strong supporter for one of the clients as their dad was experiencing end-of-life care, and he was there to attend hospital visits with the client and eventually funeral services, offering to come in on off days. Nana is supportive, committed, and everything you could ask for in a staff member and more.