Dear Fellow Staff—

And then there was one! As we enter this week, we have only one house on outbreak status, and hopefully  that home can be cleared this week. If that happens, it will be the first time since April 2020, one month after COVID-19 hit, that we will have no homes on quarantine. That will be a remarkable achievement, given that we have over 45 homes, 115 individuals and hundreds of staff supporting them. Thank you for your diligence in following our “Safe In All Settings” protocols, for wearing your face coverings properly and for social distancing. Please keep it up.

Thanks also to the persistent efforts of our H/R department, as we have also been able to get hundreds of our staff and individuals vaccinated. All but two of our individuals have received at least their first shots, and many have received their second dose. Last Thursday, at NCIA’s recent second-dose clinic at our Career Development Center, over 130 staff and individuals completed their vaccinations! Simply amazing, when you consider that the Maryland National Guard took great pride in getting 250 people vaccinated at M&T stadium the same day. Our dedicated staff of seven accomplished over 50% of that number in four hours. We have two more “second-shot” clinics this week for about 50 more people. We are also attempting to set up a couple more clinics in March, so be on the lookout for advance notices. Thanks again to Sandra and her H/R team.

As always, we had a busy week in our programs. Business Services had their snow removal team out again earlier in the week, and finally got a little rest when the weather got warmer. Our Youth In Transition School staff were in training as we prepare to reopen the school building on March 1, 2021. We will be using a hybrid model, having in-person instruction for a limited number of students four days a week while still having the remainder of the students on our virtual learning model. In speaking with our YIT leadership team, they emphasized that teachers and academic coaches were very excited about being able to see each other (and our students) in person and supported our decision to gradually return to in-person classes. It is a pilot program that we will closely monitor. Thanks to Stephen Cooke in our Communications Department and Sophia Lawson from Compliance in helping to develop safety protocols and procedures to allow us to open.

Staying on the school for a moment, you may recall that a number of weeks ago I related a story about a student who had mixed feelings between completing his schoolwork and working full-time at UPS to support his family, and how our YIT staff were incredibly diligent and flexible to help him graduate. I am excited to report that this week he completed his studies and will receive his high school diploma from Prince George’s County. Congratulations to this young man and to all of our staff who helped him complete his education.

Our HJH Vocational Training Centers also had an exciting week. In Baltimore, on Friday we had our completion ceremonies for over 75 graduates, who received their certifications in HVAC repair, Commercial Driver’s license, FAA drone operation and automotive repair. It is truly heart-warming to see these men and women receive their certificates and embark on a life-changing journey to full time employment.

Additionally, we have hired staff for our new Vocational Training Center in Raleigh, North Carolina and have signed a lease for our VTC in Philadelphia. Stay tuned for more details on their grand openings!

We at NCIA should continue to be proud of what we have accomplished during this pandemic. Many agencies closed, and remain closed, leaving their clients with little or no services. We have kept our doors open in all of our programs for the entire time. We invested in technology, PPE equipment and staff development in addition to finding ways to keep our staff safe. Our journey is far from complete, but we are moving closer to that proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel”. Please continue to follow our protocols, as they will help you, your loved ones, your fellow staff and our clients virus-free.

As we end Black History Month, it is only fitting to finish with a quote from Martin Luther King Jr. He stated:

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, What Are You Doing for Others?”

 Here at NCIA, we have no difficulty answering that question. We are working hard on a day-to-day basis to improve the lives of those who have lived in the shadows of our society, and bringing a quality of life to thousands of individuals. Thank you for being part of our NCIA family.