By Margaret Nimmo Holland


By now, almost all of us have had a “pandemic birthday” – one that was probably low-key and might not have felt all that festive. But enCircle staff member Vicky Hurt had something special to celebrate on her birthday last month.

Vicky, a Direct Support Professional (DSP) II who supervises an enCircle Group Home, was first in line to receive the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at our Bedford clinic on her birthday, January 30. Her immediate reaction: “Yay! I am so excited! I’m so appreciative of enCircle offering this to myself and the other staff and individuals [we serve]. They come first!”

Not only did she receive her vaccine, but she enthusiastically led the way for other DSPs and the residents of our seven Virginia Group Homes as they received their first doses. They returned to the Bedford County Gym this past weekend to receive their second dose.

“This is the first step toward getting back to some sort of normal life,” said enCircle CEO Ray Ratke, who visited the Bedford clinic and later received his own vaccine at the clinic in Richmond. “I really hope everyone who has not yet signed up will seriously consider doing so. The people we serve in every program depend on us, and we need to be there for them, as well as for our own families.”

EnCircle is grateful that the Commonwealth of Virginia considered people with disabilities and the staff who support them as priorities for vaccination. This allowed us to organize clinics in five regions of the state for the people we serve and our staff. Special thanks to Bedford County officials, who allowed us to use the county gym for the clinic.

We also thank our partners at CVS who administered the vaccines to nearly 450 people throughout Virginia over the last several weeks. They were incredibly helpful and accommodating to the special needs of the people we serve.