Media release

2019 Murray Family Prize honors Eileen Hayes

The 2019 Murray Family Prize for Community Enrichment at the Rhode Island Foundation has been awarded to Eileen Hayes, executive director of Amos House.

With the honor, Hayes received $50,000 in recognition of her decades-long commitment to helping homeless Rhode Islanders.

“Eileen’s passionate commitment to serving the community around her is an inspiring standard for others to follow. We take enormous pride in honoring her for her drive and her achievements,” said Paula McNamara, daughter of Terrence and Suzanne Murray, who along with her family established the Murray Family Prize for Community Enrichment at the Foundation.

A resident of Providence, Hayes has been executive director of Amos House since 2001. During her tenure, the Providence nonprofit organization has served thousands of struggling Rhode Islanders with meals, housing and social services, including culinary and carpentry job training programs.

Under her leadership, Amos House has grown from a grassroots soup kitchen to a comprehensive social service agency with more than 80 employees and an annual budget of more than $5 million.

“There are no words to express how honored and humbled I am to receive the Murray Family Foundation Prize for Community Enrichment. In all honesty, I feel like I am the one who has been incredibly enriched through my time in this inspiring and resilient community,” said Hayes.

“Working at Amos House for the past 19 years has been the most rewarding experience of my life and I am grateful to Amos House board, staff and guests for allowing me to work with them each and every day. Together, we are improving lives."

- Eileen Hayes

Among Hayes’ achievements are the completion of a $5 million community center that houses all of Amos House’s programs and stewardship of an endowment that has grown to $1 million.

Eileen Hayes

“It is vital to recognize the contributions of Rhode Islanders like Eileen, who are working diligently and humbly to serve others,” said Neil D. Steinberg, the Foundation’s president and CEO. “We are appreciative of the Murray family for honoring the extraordinary leaders whose work improves the lives of those around them.”

This is just the third time the Murray Family Prize has been awarded. The previous recipients are Rob DeBlois, founder of the UCAP School in Providence; and Joe Garlick, executive director of NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley in Woonsocket.

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. Working with generous and visionary donors, the Foundation raised $114 million and awarded $52 million in grants to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities in 2018. Through leadership, fundraising and grantmaking activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential.