I wish you a relaxing holiday weekend celebrating America’s independence.
This month marks the 30th anniversary of the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This landmark legislation prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public. Every single person served by Evergreen has been positively impacted by the ADA.
The 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act is a good time to reflect on strides that the U.S. has made in ensuring equality for people with disabilities and also to recognize how much more can be done to create employment opportunities for those in the disability community.
One of the ways Evergreen is working to create employment opportunities for people with disabilities is through our social enterprise, HEAVENDROPt. Tomorrow, July 3, starting at 7:20 am (eastern time), FOX 13 in Tampa will be doing a live segment at our HEAVENDROPt warehouse where we will showcase a number of products made by people with disabilities, including a new version of our HEAVENDROPt face mask. This mask is made entirely of parachute material and you can order it here.
We have heard from many of you about your desire to resume close contact visits with your loved ones in our care. I want to assure you that we are doing everything we can to find ways for you to safely visit. Right now, we are allowing drive-by visits and open-air, socially distant visiting. As COVID-19 cases have increased in many states, Evergreen has to remain vigilant to protect the many vulnerable people we serve. We have extended the no-work travel ban to our employees through August 31 in order to reduce the risk of exposure. We are also requiring employees who travel outside of their home area to wait two weeks before returning to work.
As of last week, in the state of Louisiana alone, we had 59 staff members who had tested positive for COVID-19 since March. In Oklahoma, we decided to lift some shelter-in-place restrictions a few weeks ago so that Evergreen’s work crews could get back to the jobs they missed so much. Within a few days, we learned that a staff member had tested positive for COVID-19. Because the loosened restrictions allowed people from different homes to work together, this one positive staff member exposed 21 other staff and 13 individuals living in three community homes. These are just some examples of the challenges we face in our fight to keep COVID-19 away. My promise to you is that I will communicate regularly with you until we are able to get back to some level of normalcy. I so appreciate your understanding and support.
Our first virtual event last week was a big success! We are so grateful to everyone who sponsored, purchased tickets, participated in the online auction and who sent a donation in support of our 12th Annual Celebrity Waiter Dinner. The event may have looked a little different this year, but your generosity blew us away!
Our national Board of Directors also held a virtual board meeting last week and approved the fiscal year 20/21 budget, which began yesterday at Evergreen. Evergreen follows a July 1 – June 30 fiscal year.
I hope that you and your family have a safe 4th of July weekend. As always, please don’t hesitate to contact me with questions or concerns.