It is hard to believe that it has been a full year since the beginning of the COVID-19 Public Health Crisis. I am sure that all of you, like me, did not have a pandemic on your radar when the year 2020 began. Regardless, here we are still dealing on a daily basis, with the life changing aspects of this new world of living with COVID-19. There has been a lot of time, energy and focus directed by everyone at Alternatives over this past year toward continuing to do business and providing quality services to our clientele in the midst of the challenges the pandemic has presented. If you had told me just one year ago that we would be scheduling fit-testing for N95 masks for our employees, conducting virus testing for staff and clients as well as coordinating vaccine clinics, I would not have believed it. We have done all of that over the past few months and continued to do all in our power over the past year to make life for the individuals we serve as “normal” as possible during these highly abnormal times.
Alternatives, Inc. Staff at the COVID-19 Clinics sponsored by Walgreens
As you know, we have been hosting vaccine clinics over the last month, in partnership with Walgreens. I am happy to report that upon the conclusion of the 3 clinics in 3 locations, in March, we will have vaccinated over 300 employees and clients. I am hopeful that with more vaccine becoming available and getting into the arms of the public, we are entering the beginning of the end, or final phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. I appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding over the past year and am grateful for your ongoing communication as we have navigated these unchartered waters.
I know this past year has taken a toll, but there is indeed reason for optimism as the number of COVID cases continue to trend down and as the vaccine is becoming more available to those who want it. Keep an eye out for another Vaccine Update from Christina DeMetro, which you should receive early next week.
Valentine's Day is a celebration of many things, and a way to express appreciation for others. These clients celebrated their appreciation for the friendships they've made while being a part of the Alternatives family.
Last week, Governor Murphy delivered his annual Budget Address, and we're very pleased to report that the funding blueprint he outlined includes approximately $100 million in new monies within the Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) to support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). This is a tremendous commitment to our community and an important recognition of the needs of those we represent. In light of the financial difficulties facing the state brought about by COVID, we are especially appreciative that the Governor and his Administration heard our advocacy calls and prioritized people with I/DD in the proposed State Budget. A budget including $100 million is a significant investment in our service delivery system, particularly during this incredibly challenging period of time.
We thank everyone who took the time to participate in action alerts and make your voice heard. Your participation in the Budget process is crucial as we advocate for funding to support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, their families and the workforce on which they depend. Please know how important your role is in this process and we hope you will continue advocating alongside us as our budget advocacy continues through the end of June.
Keep an eye out for upcoming action alerts and other ways to make your voice heard in the weeks and months ahead as the Legislature holds budget hearings and Department Commissioners provide deeper insights into the funding priorities.