September 20, 2020
Dear Fellow Staff:
It is hard to believe, and sometimes feels surreal, but we have now completed 27 weeks living under this COVID-19 pandemic. That is 189 days, and over half a year! I want to continue to thank you for following our “Safe In All Settings” protocols. We provided a pandemic report of NCIA/COVID data to our Board of Directors this week and they were impressed by our numbers. Since March 16, we have had 8 individuals and 19 employees test positive. We currently have no individuals or staff with positive tests. This is amazing in a company with almost 500 employees serving hundreds of individuals daily in a variety of settings. So please keep up the great work—it is paying off!
As mentioned, NCIA’s Board of Directors met last week. As part of that meeting, each Program Director presented their goals and objectives for Fiscal Year 2020-2021.The presentations should make all of NCIA proud of our leadership team. April Jensen (Adult Residential Services), Angela Chambers (YIT School), Gary Antonino (HJH Vocational Training Centers) and Sophia Lawson (Corporate Compliance and Quality) did an incredible job in presenting the visions for each of their Departments. Combined, we are helping an incredible number of individuals better their lives on a daily basis.
Last week we celebrated Direct Support Professionals week, an opportunity to thank those on the front line of our work. NCIA has posted impactful messaging on social media, sent thank you letters to our DSP’s, as well as a token of our appreciation. We usually have a celebration in our main office, but this virus has interrupted that. When this is over, we will find additional ways to celebrate their work.
Speaking of front-line workers, I want to take this opportunity to give a shout out to Rick Fleischmann, NCIA’s Facilities and Fleet Manager. He is truly one of our unsung heroes helping us through this pandemic. Since March 13, 2020 when NCIA closed its corporate, school and CDP buildings, he has been coming in daily to take care of all the ground logistics. As we moved into COVID emergency plans, Rick was there to manage all inventory related to PPE, food and household supplies for our residential homes and took measures to safely ground our vehicles that were not in use. Rick is also part of our Quarantine Emergency Team which requires immediate response at any time to provide quarantine kits to any COVID/Outbreak homes. Rick is in our office kitting all PPE and household supplies for all the homes every week.
As NCIA moves into a gradual and safe reopening of our corporate building and program operations, Rick is a key part of our plans. The cleaning and disinfecting of our buildings is his responsibility and he oversees the employees and contractors that make this happen. We can’t thank Rick enough for his critical role during this pandemic. He is another great example of NCIA’s employees pivoting during a time of crises and doing what is needed to support our individuals and staff.
I received a wonderful email from one of our YIT School social workers this week. We had a student whom we had not seen in months attend one of our virtual group meetings and they encouraged him to continue with his academic curriculum. Our staff had continued to reach out to him despite his absence and it really paid off. Our staff welcomed him back with open arms and it made him feel loved. At the bottom of the email under our logo was the YIT School (and NCIA) motto:
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment or the smallest act of caring—all which have the potential to turn a life around.”
On a personal note, today is my 70th birthday, with the past 43 of those years dedicated to NCIA. I am proud at what we have achieved together and the lives we have been able to improve, but know that our mission will require our continued hard work and commitment.
I recently read an illustrated book which was both inspiring and humbling. In the book a young boy was shown a glass of water and asked if he saw it as half-empty or half-full. His response was that he was just happy to have a glass at all.
I feel the same the same way—I am just happy to have all of you at NCIA as my colleagues, friends and family.
With continued gratitude—
Herb Hoelter, CEO