Dear Fellow Staff—

I hope all of you had a safe and bountiful Thanksgiving. It was certainly different, as Zoom calls and phone calls replaced our seats together at the dinner table. The most important issue was that we still touched each other’s lives, even if it couldn’t be in person. Hopefully next Thanksgiving we can return to our traditional holiday of actually being together.

I am not going to do my traditional COVID-19 update this week, as not much has changed and we will wait to hear the post-Thanksgiving numbers. I’m praying and hoping that our NCIA family heeded our earlier warnings and that everyone followed recommended staff procedures in their celebrations. Time will tell.

Rather, I would like everyone to think about all the things each of us have to be thankful for—our families, our friends, our health, and importantly, the incredible work we do in changing lives. During NCIA’s history over the past 43 years, we have touched tens of thousands of lives, one person at a time. And we still do that every day! So I thank you for that commitment, as do the people we serve.

I am particularly thankful this Holiday season for the teamwork that each of our NCIA programs displayed during this COVID-driven holiday. It has been incredible to observe! Our programs have worked together to make all of individuals part of our larger NCIA family.

It actually began last week, when Chef Christa Bruno, the culinary arts instructor at our Baltimore HJH Vocational Training center, inspired her students and made early Thanksgiving meals for over 100 of our VTC students. This week, she and her students, when they learned we had 47 homes and over 144 staff and individuals needing Thanksgiving dinners, took it upon themselves to provide each home with a six-course turkey dinner!

Once prepared, we then had the logistical challenge of distributing them to our houses. Thanks to Stephen Cooke’s project oversight, meals were packaged and labeled; our maintenance staff delivered the meals to the main office on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon allowing our Division and House Managers to safely pick up the meals and take them to the homes.

Like many of us, our individuals and staff sacrificed visiting and spending Thanksgiving with their family members. So many of our homes made this a special event, made homemade desserts to complement the meal, put out Thanksgiving decor, and did Thanksgiving-themed crafts during the week. By Thursday, every home was able to open their refrigerator and enjoy a full turkey dinner with all the sides.

Additionally our Business Services Department was also able to come together and celebrate. They held a breakfast prior to heading out to their contract work on Wednesday morning which included a pot luck raffle, where their Morale Committee collected donated items like ham, turkey, sides, pies, and sparkling cider, and put them into gift baskets. About 10 different gifts packages were raffled off to employees.

Finally, our YIT School staff distributed grocery gift cards to all of the families of our students, allowing them the opportunity to have a great Thanksgiving meal!

All of these efforts display our NCIA family working together to benefit the lives of those who rely on us to provide them with opportunities, a quality of living and a knowledge that someone cares about them

John F. Kennedy said it best:

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”

 That is what our NCIA family does every day, and I thank you for that.