Dear Fellow Staff—

This week it looks like we held on, and possibly improved a bit. We have 8 homes on outbreak status, three of which are HERO homes and 5 staff-only positive homes. We currently have five individuals and eight staff that tested positive in our Adult Residential homes. There is currently one individual that is hospitalized.

But holding our own is not good enough — we must get back on the wellness stage! That means being extra diligent in our safety protocols. In the Governor’s address this week, he noted that Maryland is making steady progress, but there are currently spiking numbers both in our region and across the country. He also noted that social and family gatherings, in addition to house parties, are the top activities for the spread of this deadly virus. So please keep yourselves, your families, your fellow staff and those we serve safe by wearing your masks, keeping socially distant and washing your hands. We can do this together!

Our programs continue to develop despite the constant challenges of COVID-19. Our HJH Vocational Training Centers continue to attract and hire experienced professional staff. In Baltimore, we have hired Ahmad Collick as VTC Program Director. Ahmad has a wealth of knowledge in community relations, relationship building, and programming. He is very familiar with the Baltimore community and how our mission is changing lives.

In Raleigh, North Carolina, Alesha Jones Garrett has been hired as our Program Director. Her expertise in workforce development and state contracting will be a huge asset to our VTC team, and her experience in the Raleigh area will result in great community collaboration. Finally, Christine Poltawsky was promoted to the Program Director role in Charlotte. Christine’s leadership abilities have been evident over the past year and will be critical as the Charlotte VTC continues to expand.

I have mentioned it numerous times in recent weeks, but the challenges we face in our YIT School are daunting. Our school staff exemplify our tenet of “unconditional care”, as the barriers facing our students sometimes seem insurmountable. We have had numbers of students who have lost their housing. Others have their parents working, and our students are left in the care of siblings who may not have the ability to manage them. Many others lack food and just general support.  Our staff have become adept at working through home issues as our students struggle from lack of family support, to the pull of the world outside the computer, to the risks they are facing in terms of involvement with neighborhood groups and activities. Our staff continue to remain resilient and patient, even though they are emotionally burdened by what they see our students are facing on a daily basis. We are thankful to have such committed staff.

Our Adult Residential Services and Business Services Departments also continue to meet their daily challenges. Individuals want to go out and families want to visit without restrictions but we only allow outings and visitations under strict controls. Our staff continue to work hard to keep our clients safe and occupied during this difficult time. Many of our adult individuals are able to continue to work on Business Services contracts, and they have been excellent at maintaining strict safety procedures to allow that to happen thanks to the BSD staff.

In closing, I continue to recognize the emotional toll this pandemic has taken on all of us. It can sometimes be overwhelming and depressing. However, I remembered a quote from one of my favorite authors, the Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky — “Man is fond of counting his troubles, but he does not count his joys. If he counted them as he ought to, he would see that every lot has enough happiness provided for it.” So let’s count our blessings, and please stay safe.