August 2, 2020

Dear Fellow Staff:

It continues to be hard to believe, but we have now finished 20 weeks of working under this pandemic. Never in our wildest dreams could anyone have ever imagined we would be living through this deadly virus.

As I have done in my past weekly updates, I would like to tell you how well our NCIA family is doing — but this week I can’t, as we had three staff test positive this week. They are currently asymptomatic and not hospitalized, and fortunately they had no contact with other NCIA staff or our individuals in the recent past. However, it does point to the fact that COVID-19 cases are again increasing and we must rigidly enforce our Safe In All Settings protocols. This pandemic is not going away quickly and we must think of our own health, that of our families and certainly the health of the people we serve. We have worked hard to get where we are — both before this virus and for the past five months during it. The challenges have been significant, but we have met them. We simply can’t afford to slide back.

Stephen Cooke, our Marketing and Communications Specialist, sent out an excellent email last Friday highlighting the safety measures that need to be taken. Please read that memo thoroughly to understand the protocols that we must follow — the first and most important is wearing your mask at all times!

We are also facing significant challenges in the operations and forward planning process for all NCIA programs. We are committed to a business plan that will feature a hybrid of virtual instruction combined with a limited “hands-on” approach. This requires thoughtful planning, leadership and teamwork. Fortunately, all of our programs and our staff are up to the task. NCIA is blessed to have staff who are resilient, creative and committed to our mission.

In our Adult Residential Services, we are facing the prospect of individuals not being able to visit their families and other limited social interaction. In our Business Services, we have dozens of individuals working outside their homes on a daily basis. Our Vocational Training Centers are continuing to rotate students into our buildings in a safe manner, requiring daily temperature checks and daily safety questionnaires. Our Youth In Transition School has one of the biggest challenges — figuring out how to do virtual learning with many students who don’t necessarily want to be in school and living in geographic areas which have limited internet service.

On the social justice front, if you have not seen it, I would ask you to take the time to watch former President Barack Obama’s eulogy for Rep. John Lewis last week. It will likely go down as one of his greatest speeches, paying tribute to one of the cherished leaders of the American civil rights movement.

As always, thank you for your service to the people we serve. I recently read that a crisis such as this doesn’t build character—it defines it. And our NCIA family is defining it on a daily basis.

With continued gratitude,

Herb Hoelter

Chief Executive Officer