Dear Fellow Staff—

It has been an extremely challenging week on a lot of fronts, but the resilience of NCIA staff has been truly amazing. This virus is certainly taking its toll on a number of our people and programs, but we keep moving on a positive path. We all look forward to the day when we can put this behind us — and we are getting closer — but the journey to get there still has obstacles.

As I informed you earlier this week, we lost a long-time member of our NCIA family last Wednesday to this deadly virus. He was only 43-years-old, and had no underlying conditions. He began as a student in our school and, upon completion, entered our Adult Residential Services program. He was an NCIA client for over 22 years and will be missed by many.

We also added one more house to outbreak status this week, and our total now is three. Hopefully we can stay the course and within a week or two have these houses cleared! We also have eight staff in Baltimore diagnosed with COVID-19, none of them hospitalized. On the final “bad news” note, our Vocational Training Center in Charlotte had to go totally virtual this week, as one of our staff in that facility had a positive COVID test. Fortunately all of other staff tested negative and we will resume our hybrid learning this Wednesday.

Now for the positive news. Due to the herculean efforts of our Human Resources Director, Sandra Mock-Myers, and Rochelle (the “General”) Matthews, our Adult Residential Services Director, we had 73 of our individuals vaccinated this week and the remaining individuals are all scheduled this week. This was an amazing feat. Many staff contributed, especially our Division Manager, Gerrod Jackson. The clinic was held in a heated tent outside the house where our staff had just passed away. Gerrod coordinated everything, from parking spaces, to filling out forms to reassuring our clients about getting the vaccine. Thank you Gerrod!

Additionally, our H/R Department has been able to schedule six additional clinics at our homes this week so direct care staff will have an excellent opportunity to receive the vaccine. We have made a concerted effort to protect all of our clients and staff.

As an organization, we continue to push forward. I saw an article this week that nonprofit employment was down by over 930,000 jobs since COVID hit in February. That amounts to almost 7.5%. In the social services sector, the rate is 9%. We have been fortunate that we have been able to keep our doors open this entire time and actually kept hiring! Not only that, but we have been able to supplement the pay of our direct service professionals during this pandemic.

In my previous update, I related a story about one of our Youth In Transition School students who had gotten a job at UPS and was in danger of dropping out as he had to choose between supporting his family or graduating. Our leadership team at the school reached out to his school district and convinced them to allow him to make up his missed classwork. He has a few weeks to complete his school work in order to receive his diploma and one of our long-time academic coaches, Juliet Page, has taken it upon herself to make sure this happens. I’ll keep you updated!

One of the individuals in our Business Services Department also had a nice accomplishment this week. He is a dedicated worker, having never missed a day of work. He also had been training to be a boxer. Well, he reached his goal. Last week he participated in a pay-for-view boxing event!

My theme for this week is teamwork. Having coached basketball for over 25 years, I know all too well the value of working together, and our NCIA team demonstrated that this week. I remember well one of my favorite quotes about this value:

“Communication, respect and trust are the most important aspects of all relationships, as well as teams.”

So let’s keep that in mind as we continue our work together in our battle with this COVID-19 virus. We must continue our communication, as well as respect and trust each other to do the right thing. That means wearing our masks, staying socially distant and avoiding social gatherings. We can do this together!