Dear Fellow Staff:

Our Memorial Day week ended in tragedy. In the midst of this ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we went from celebrating those who served our country to the senseless murder of a black man by a police officer. This certainly should give all of us pause to reflect on how we as a society can heal and improve from these double tragedies, and the role NCIA can and should play as an agency.

For those unfamiliar with NCIA’s past public policy initiatives, Dr. Jerry Miller, my mentor and NCIA’s co-founder, was one of the early voices on the issue of race and criminal justice. In the late 1980’s, due to the imposition of mandatory sentences for drug offenders, he predicted the mass incarceration impact on our minority communities and the implications for our society. He wrote one of the first books on the issue called Search and Destroy-African American Males in the Criminal Justice System. It became a focal point over the past two decades for discussion of systemic racism in the criminal justice system.

Our issue now is how do we heal from two separate issues — a tragic death and a pandemic? At least part of that answer for NCIA is to continue to promote a work environment that values dignity, respect, integrity, compassion and trust for each other and for those who we serve. We also want to make sure our staff is empowered and compelled to speak out when they see an injustice and to be that advocate for everyone we support, your fellow staff and yourself.

I would also like to remind our staff that these challenging times can take a heavy toll on our emotional well-being, so please remember we have an Employee Assistance Program to assist you and your family if necessary.

On the COVID-19 front, NCIA continues to make progress. We are down to one COVID home in our residential program, and only one new staff case. Our protocols and PPE equipment is working, Keep it up!

Our distance learning programs continue to develop and improve, and we are going to be well positioned for the “new normal” in the delivery of human services. (See photos below from our Career Development Program teaching cooking classes and using a tablet NCIA provided).

NCIA is also in the process of preparing for an eventual reopening of our buildings. It will be a gradual process, with numerous protocols and procedures and will focus on our theme of “Safe in All Settings.” As we have all heard, this virus will be continuing in the months to come. Your safety, and that of our clients, is paramount and we will not compromise in our efforts to keep everyone healthy and safe. Also, please remember that until further notice, outings with our clients and visits to our homes are still prohibited.

I would like to remind everyone of a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King about the need for peace:

“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.”

Keep safe and healthy.

With continuing regards,

Herb