2016 Nassau BOCES Education Partner Award Honoree
Director of Youth Services and Community Relations
Family & Children's Association
Donna Raphael, a Master in Clinical Psychology, has devoted the past 15 years of her life to the Family & Children's Association, a not-for-profit agency that helps nearly 20,000 Long Islanders each year. In her role as Director of Youth Services, she works directly with vulnerable children, providing them with essential services and teaching them to advocate for themselves.
"If there is a positive event for youths happening in Hempstead," said her coworkers, "you can bet that Donna was part of making it a success."
Ms. Raphael started as a volunteer at the Association, but her supervisors soon realized her value and moved her steadily up the ranks. During her tenure, she has worked for several of the Association's most vital programs, including the group home for boys, the program to prevent foster care placement and the afterschool program. She has served as an advocate for youth in the criminal justice system, including both family and criminal courts.
Ms. Raphael has given particular attention to Hempstead, where she established a Youth Advisory Council, serves as an integral member of Hempstead Promise Neighborhoods (an organization committed to helping the community), and volunteers for the back-to-school supply drive every year. She also helped to implement a program to empower Hempstead students living in troubled neighborhoods to feel safe walking to school.
Last year, when a Hempstead apartment complex suffered a fire ï¿½ leaving several families homeless or without their possessions ï¿½ Ms. Raphael helped to collect donations so that the children of those families would have clothing to wear to school.
"You probably haven't heard of Donna Raphael," wrote her award nominator. "She isn't one to put herself in the spotlight, or to seek accolades for her efforts. Instead, she works quietly in the trenches as a tireless warrior for youth. She has a calling to protect and strengthen children so that they can learn to believe in their own abilities, to rise above their circumstances and be the best that they can be."