When the COVID-19 pandemic presented itself, GJR was well prepared to implement the pre-established Infection Control Plan. "Our main goal was keeping the youth and families served and our staff safe," states CEO Nathan Gressel. At GJR in PA, several action steps took place, including required masking of staff and youth, a deep clean and sanitization of campus buildings, establishing quarantine units (in case a youth presented as positive), close monitoring and tracking of health issues presented by employees, no intermingling of youth between programs/buildings, and quarantining newly admitted youth when they arrive on campus. These strict procedures continue to assist GJR in PA in mitigating risks associated with COVID-19 and community spread.
Preventative Aftercare and George Junior Republic in Indiana's community-based programs also increased efforts to keep staff and those served healthy. Staff and youth receive masks, staff provided web-based supports and therapy to youth and families served during strict lockdown periods imposed by various state governments and continue to do so, and staff work from home as needed.
The Board of Directors supported the administration's decision to provide eight weeks of additional pay for all staff. The $2/hr. increase assisted employees in April and May when all Americans were struggling with the enormous impact of COVID-19 on their personal lives.
The organization remains committed to mitigating all risks of COVID-19 and looks forward to a healthier future for all.
EMPLOYEE SPOTLIGHT: CAMPUS SUPERVISOR BILLY MILLER
The employees are the backbone of any organization. Campus Supervisor Billy Miller is an example of an employee who is mission focused. Miller began working at George Junior Republic in Pennsylvania in 1999 in the recreation department. Subsequently, he has served in several positions that provided him the opportunity to work more closely with the youth served. Today, he serves as a Campus Supervisor and is charged with the oversight of campus safety. "I work here because every day is different and challenges me to be better. Over the years staff members have become much like my family. The most important reason why I work here is at the end of the day I want to make certain I made a difference in a child's life."
FRED HARRIS NAMED NEW FACILITY MANAGER
The oversight of a 500-acre campus with over 70 buildings is no easy task. When longtime Facility Director Hal Clark retired in late spring, the organization conducted a thorough search to find someone well versed in employee supervision, renovation, and building maintenance/construction. Also, it was important to find someone that understood the importance of inspections, building codes, safety regulations, and the population served. After a lengthy search, Fred Harris was selected to serve in the position of Facility Manager.
"I was drawn to George Junior Republic because of the mission statement. I am excited to work alongside the dedicated management and staff to provide positive outcomes to the youth we are serving and to make their life and every life they touch better. As a department, we want to continue the high standards of building maintenance and construction that have been set by past departments. We want to support the organization's growth into new fields of care as we look to the future by renovating or constructing buildings that meet the needs of those we serve and staff," states Harris.
Harris has spent his career in facility management and safety and understands the needs of individuals served in the nonprofit sector. "We are pleased to welcome Fred to the organization, and I believe his skills and abilities will serve the organization well," states CEO Nathan Gressel.
Today, Fred and his team are putting the final touches on the Wellness Center and working on the new Long Term Structured Residence facility. He stated that he works each day following the words of Roberto Clemente, "If you have a chance to accomplish something that will make things better for people coming behind you and you don't do that, you are wasting your time on this earth."
Youth Summer Activities
On the GJR in PA campus, the Program Department was busy keeping over 200 youth active during the summer months. Activities ranged from an 'Iron Man' competition to opening the new playground.