Dear Fellow Staff—

Congratulations on a good week! As mentioned in my last update, we wanted to get through this week with no new “outbreak” homes, and we did it! Also, as you will see below, we had a vaccine clinic that was a huge achievement. So thank you to all NCIA staff for a successful seven days.

February is Black History Month in which we celebrate the achievements by African Americans and recognize their central role in United States history. It was originally called Negro History week when it was established in 1926 by Carter G. Woodson, an African-American historian. He was a pioneer in his own right. He was the son of former slaves, and spent his childhood working in coal mines, receiving his education during the four-month term that was customary for black schools at the time. At the age of 19, having taught himself English fundamentals and math, he entered high school and finished in two years. He then graduated from Berea College in Kentucky, the first college in the Southern United States to be racially integrated. He went on to earn his Master’s degree in history from the University of Chicago and a Doctorate from Harvard.

Mr. Woodson chose February for this celebration because it marks the birthdays of two men who greatly influenced the black American population: Frederick Douglass, the abolitionist and civil rights leader, and President Abraham Lincoln, who abolished slavery when he signed the Emancipation Proclamation. So let’s celebrate this month together and recognize the past and present achievements of our African American population.

As mentioned, this week, in conjunction with CVS pharmacy, NCIA put together a COVID vaccine clinic for our individuals and staff. We were able to vaccinate 127 people! It was again an NCIA team effort involving our Human Resources, Operations, Facilities and Communication Departments. Thanks to all who participated in this successful effort. We have two additional smaller clinics scheduled this week, so please contact our H/R department to sign up. Our goal is to have all individuals and staff who want vaccines to receive them.

It’s going to be a busy and exciting week for our Vocational Training Centers. In Baltimore we are graduating over 80 students, and in Charlotte 45 students will be receiving their industry-recognized certifications. Additionally, both Centers are having new student orientation sessions as another 200 students are enrolled in our Centers for our next 15-week semester. Talk about changing lives!

With the recent and upcoming snowfall, our Business Services Department is going full tilt. A number of our individuals and job coaches were working 10-12 hour shifts. Three of our individuals stood out: Terry Grandy, Tony Ristick and Lionel Williams. They worked hard with smiles on their faces and deserve a special round of applause.  We also welcome Javon Williams, Business Services’ new Operations Manager.  Javon certainly jumped into the action as the snowstorms reigned down in Baltimore.

Our Youth In Transition School is busy preparing for a March re-opening. Schedules, transportation, meals and safety protocols are in their final stages. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for a safe and successful re-opening. It was great to see the YIT team at the vaccination clinics this past week as they prepare for in-person instruction.

Finally, our Adult Residential Services continues to be a model for the industry. The care and compassion our staff demonstrate on a daily basis is amazing, particularly when the individuals we serve have been basically confined to our homes for the past 11 months. This team never paused for a minute as they continued to provide supports to individuals in our residential homes.  Even when there was an outbreak residential staff showed up.  I am truly humbled by the care and commitment of our staff.

As I reflect on all the lives we are affecting through our network of NCIA programs, I am truly humbled. The brave abolitionist and Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman said it best:

“Always remember you have within you the strength, the patience and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”

Here at NCIA we are not changing the world, but we are changing lives, one person at a time. Keep it up!