September 27, 2020
Dear Fellow Staff,
Congratulations! We are on a roll! The past week was our third in a row of no COVID-19 cases among any of our staff or individuals, and any staff who had tested positive are all back to work. That is really a tribute to each of you for following our “Safe In All Settings” protocols. Please keep it up, for your sake and that of your families, friends, co-workers and our individuals. Wearing your masks (over your nose please), social distancing and washing your hands frequently really does work!
On the program front, we continue to operate and develop new methods of delivering our services. One of our bigger challenges continues to be our Youth In Transition School. As mentioned previously, NCIA invested in Chromebooks to provide all of our students the opportunity for remote learning, and our leadership, teachers and academic coaches developed a robust curriculum for instruction. However, we underestimated the creativity and ingenuity of our students with regard to computer technology, and they have found ways to invite non-students to our classes, bring friends to their counseling sessions and log onto inappropriate websites. We have found ways to block all of those issues, but who knows what else they may come up with!
Additionally, we are exploring ways we can bring the students back into our school building for in-person instruction. One of the major challenges we are facing is the need for physical restraint if a student has a behavior episode. How that can be accomplished safely under today’s protocols is a significant issue.
Our HJH Vocational Training Centers continue to thrive. Our Charlotte Center finished a cohort of over 40 students this past Thursday, and had orientation for the next cohort of 70 students the next day! Quite an accomplishment for a program that just began in January. Our Baltimore VTC is in the final stages of its present cohort and has 120 students signed up to begin in October. Talk about changing lives!
Our Business Services Division (BSD) under Vanessa Harrison received notice this week that we were awarded a three year contract worth $1.3 million from the Maryland Transportation Authority for janitorial services at their Point Breeze location. This will allow us additional employment opportunities for our individuals and continue to enhance their lives. Our BSD Division now has 18 contracts with a total value of over $14 million, and averages over $3.2 million in annual revenue. Most importantly, it allows us to hire scores of our individuals.
NCIA’s Adult Residential Services continues to operate safely and April Jensen and team are doing a great job. We have recently retained an experienced professional, Denise Pressley, to help us in our distance learning efforts for our adult population. Denise received her undergraduate degree from Hampton University, her Master’s degree from Trinity College in D.C. and her Doctorate degree from Walden University. We are really fortunate to attract individuals like Denise to our team.
Please take a moment to reflect on the life of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She was a true champion of social justice, and was the first woman to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol Building. As one retired jurist stated: “She made the world a better place”. That is what we try and do at NCIA—make the world a better place for those we serve.
Finally, we all know this pandemic is tiring and our lives, and those of our families, have been thrown into a different, and often difficult, environment. I read recently about the world-renowned marble lions that sit outside the New York Public Library. In the 1930’s, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia named them Patience and Fortitude to help New Yorkers survive the terrible economic depression that hit our country at that time.
This pandemic will eventually end, and I think that is what NCIA and our families and individuals need to think about. We need Patience and Fortitude, and when this ends and we are all safe we can celebrate as an NCIA family.
With continued gratitude,
Herb Hoelter, CEO