Abigail Okarmus Wins NAFI CT Spirit of the Community Award

November 21, 2019


NAFI CT Executive Director presents Abigail Okarmus with the Spirit of the Community Award.
NAFI CT Executive Director presents Abigail Okarmus with the Spirit of the Community Award.

Abigail Okarmus, a Quality Assurance Coordinator with NAFI CT, received the Spirit of the Community award for Connecticut at the North American Family Institute’s recent annual conference.

She was honored in part for her success in growing the NAFI CT outpatient clinic in Willimantic, which provides psychiatric and clinical counseling to children and adolescents ages 6 to 18 and their families.

“In less than a year’s time, this outpatient clinic expanded beyond its expectations and went from servicing four clients on a yearly basis to over 70,” Lynn Bishop, Executive Director for NAFI CT, said in giving Abigail the award. “What is most impactful about this accomplishment is that 70-plus more consumers are given the opportunity to be a part of our NAFI community, leaving the program every day knowing they matter.”

“Her keen eye for quality assurance, quick wit, creativity and hard work is appreciated beyond words. That is why NAFI CT is awarding the Spirit of the Community to Abigail,” Bishop said.

“To say this individual is a tenacious go-getter is an understatement,” Bishop added in describing Abigail’s positive impact. “Whether functioning in a clinical or administrative role, this individual is a strong advocate for program consumers, always ensuring that clients’ best interests are in the forefront of decision making. These amazing qualities are also echoed in this employee’s personal life, as she tirelessly advocates for those around her needing additional community supports, all while being a proud rescue dog mom.”

As part of announcing Spirit of the Community awards, the attributes of honorees were described before their names were announced.

“I honestly didn’t know they were describing me until they got to the specific number of clients,” Abigail said. “I was definitely surprised. I really appreciate it.”

Abigail first came to NAFI CT in 2006 and then moved on in 2009, in part because there was no outpatient clinic at the time, which was her area of interest. She returned in 2014 as NAFI CT was getting started with outpatient services.

“Things worked out so I eventually took it over,” she said of the clinic in Willimantic, adding, “My vision is we’ll eventually have a couple of outpatient clinics at NAFI.”

The Program Spirit of the Community award for Connecticut was given to the team providing Multisystemic Therapy for Emerging Adults (MST-EA), an intensive individual treatment for young adults who are aging out of the child welfare system to transition to the adult treatment system for their serious mental illness and/or substance misuse treatment.

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 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 www.nafict.org.