Dear Family and Friends,
2020 is a year that will go down in history as a series of unrelenting, unprecedented turn of events. COVID-19 has changed our way of life in the present and foreseeable future. We have suffered great losses, but we also have gained insight into our personal strengths and depth of character. The 21 Plus, Inc. Board, staff, families and individuals we serve have pulled together with fierce determination to overcome the emotional, physical and mental toll that COVID-19 has taken on all of us. Our community rose to the occasion with donations of sanitizer, leads on resources and suppliers of PPE and grants for Zoom video meeting platforms.
21 Plus, Inc. was awarded an Acts of Kindness Recognition grant by OceanFirst Foundation, Grunin Foundation and Townsquare Media. Our Board members and families adopted each group home, sending and continuing to send treats, activities and pick-me-ups as a token of appreciation.
Our staff is essential workers. They continue to come to work each day despite an increased risk of exposure because they know what is at stake for the individuals we serve. They ensure that our individuals have a safe and caring environment during these uncertain times. When we have had incidents of people testing positive for COVID-19, our staff volunteers went to those homes and worked to support our clients. They are heroes.
Congressman Andy Kim will be addressing and thanking our Direct Support Professionals for their heroic work on July 14, 2020 via virtual meeting platform.
As we are bombarded with images of violence and racial injustice on television and social media, we cannot stay silent. 21 Plus, Inc. denounces racism, racial injustice and all forms of violence, discrimination and bigotry against people of color. We stand in solidarity with persons of color, our employees, persons served, colleagues and communities. The racial injustices, hate-crimes and deaths that continue to take the lives of black Americans must end. We also applaud the Supreme Court of the United States ruling that protects LGBTQ employees from being disciplined, fired or turned down for a job based on their sexual orientation.
21 Plus has a long history of serving people with developmental disabilities, disenfranchised people, for over 40 years. As the Executive Director of the New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities, Mercedes Witowsky, articulately noted (excerpt), “This civil rights crisis belongs to all of us. The disability rights movement parallels the civil rights movement in many ways. Advocate and South African cleric Desmond Tutu reminded us that ‘we are set in a delicate network of interdependence with our fellow human beings … my humanity is caught up and is inextricably bound up in yours.’”
We reaffirm our commitment to justice and fairness for people of color, LGBTQ+, all people who have been marginalized and/or victims of injustice, as well as our mission to enable people with disabilities to live fulfilling lives in partnership with families and communities. We can only do this through diversity, inclusion and equality.
We pledge to keep listening and, obviously, much hard work still lies ahead. Through our words and actions, we are ready to keep moving forward together.