Dear Fellow Staff—

We have now officially passed the eight-month mark of living and working under this deadly pandemic, and you don’t need me to tell you that it is getting worse. Here in Maryland, and virtually every state in the country, the number of people testing positive has increased, in some cases dramatically. Hospital beds and emergency rooms are filling up and temporary medical arrangements are being made at convention centers and gyms to accommodate the influx.

Here at NCIA we have also seen an increase, albeit not to the extent we had a month ago. We now have three homes on outbreak status, with two of them being HERO homes, which means that an individual has also tested positive, and we have one individual who has been hospitalized. All indications are that staff are the COVID carriers, bringing it into our homes. We currently have five residential staff who have tested positive in our Outbreak homes, and a number of others unable to work because they have been exposed.

As I mentioned in recent updates, the Holiday season is upon us, and the need to be extra diligent is of paramount importance. It will require sacrifice by all of us, as we must limit (or eliminate) family gatherings, social events and interaction with those whom we love. On a personal level, Martha and I have eight grandchildren (and another on the way), and we have cancelled all in-person activities with them for the foreseeable future. It will certainly be a strange and unusual Holiday season, but the future holds many more Holiday seasons and we all need to get there safely. So please understand that your health, and that of your family, friends and fellow staff, is dependent on you following all the recommended safety protocols—especially wearing your face coverings!

This is usually the time of year that NCIA recognizes our tenured employees by having a luncheon and acknowledging their service. This year we will have to do a “Distanced Tenure Award Program,” which will be communicated in the next month. However, I would like to take this opportunity to highlight a few of our most senior tenured employees, each of whom has been with us close to thirty years.

The first is Ransom Hamlet. Ransom began his career with NCIA in October 1990 as a Residential Counselor in our Adult Residential Services program and is now a Compliance and Quality Control Specialist. He has dedicated his professional life to serving the DDA population. In speaking of his time here he responded:

“Thirty years ago I came to NCIA to provide services for those who were less fortunate than me. My desire is to continue to believe it can be done.”

Next, I would like to honor James “Binky” Jones, who began his career at NCIA in March 1991 as a Residential Counselor in our then Youth Residential Program and is now an Instructional Assistant in our Youth In Transition School. He stated:

“It has been an honor to work with the youth at NCIA. I have grown from a boy to a man making a difference in the lives of NCIA youth programs since 1991. I have been able to start my own Jiu Jitsu program (Ground Control gym) because of my experience at NCIA. I would like to thank Herb Hoelter for believing in me almost 30 years ago.”

Finally, I would like to thank Jonathan (Johnny) Pilgrim, who has worked on the front line of our Adult Residential Services since July 1992. He began as a Residential Counselor and has been a House Manager for a couple of decades. He is truly dedicated to our population. Johnny wrote:

“NCIA gave me an opportunity many years ago to make a change in my life and start me on a successful career path. I knew this was the area I wanted to work in and I truly believe NCIA has contributed a lot to this population. I have a lot of gratitude toward the company and I look forward to continuing my career here.”

Thank you to these three dedicated NCIA employees, and to all NCIA staff who are serving those who have lived in the shadows of our society.

In closing, I recognize that “COVID fatigue” is upon all of us, and we want this deadly virus to go away. All indications are that we will have a vaccine in the near future, and that 2021 will be a much better year. I recently saw a quote about challenging times that I would like to be NCIA’s slogan:

“In every crisis, doubt or confusion, take the higher path–the path of compassion, courage, understanding and love.”

With continuing gratitude—

Herb Hoelter, CEO