Dear JCCA Colleagues,

We traditionally celebrate Thanksgiving by gathering with family and friends, ushering in the warmth and cheer of the holiday season. This year is starkly different. Almost no one has been spared the impact of Covid-19. Giving thanks means so much more. More people we know and serve are hungry, less sturdy and well, even without a home. This doesn’t take away from our need to reflect upon the Indigenous peoples missing from the “traditional” Thanksgiving story of “Pilgrims and peace,” the one that excludes the actual history of European colonialism and genocide that forms a key part of the foundation of our nation.

This year families across the country will break tradition and stay home for the holidays, in “quarantine” of sorts. Many will mourn loved ones lost to COVID, or worry about relatives who are ill. We are connected more than ever perhaps to the sadness experienced by some of the young people and families served by JCCA for whom a holiday away from loved ones is not new in 2020.

While this year’s celebrations will be distinct, we have to find comfort in the bright spots. JCCA staff continues to perform acrobatic feats to make the holiday bright for our clients, ensuring they have food on the table and a safe place to be, whether on campus or in the community. There is promising news about effective COVID-19 vaccines, albeit with the caveat that some members of our community are wary of them. So long as we wear masks and follow social distancing protocols, we have every reason to be optimistic that Thanksgiving will be brighter in 2021.

Tomorrow, my family and I will give thanks for your dedication and perseverance during one of the most challenging times in recent memory. Despite the unique challenges, you have continued to be there for vulnerable families, young people, each other, and the communities we serve. I am honored to lead this organization that is so clearly focused on advancing the well-being of its clients.

Wishing you and yours a healthy holiday,

Ronald E. Richter