November 25, 2020

A Thanksgiving Message from Commissioner Kastner

A Thanksgiving Message from Commissioner Kastner

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

This year’s Thanksgiving will be like no other we have ever seen. Many of the important traditions we have enjoyed will not take place this year: traveling to see loved ones, large turkey meals and dinner with extended families, Black Friday shopping excursions and more.

Although the current health emergency is impacting our holiday traditions, we do have many things for which we ARE thankful.  I think you will agree.

We are thankful for our direct support professionals who have worked countless hours, have put themselves at risk for COVID-19 and who have helped people we support to be safe and healthy, as well as to understand the situation.

We are thankful for families who endured many days and months without seeing their loved ones, keeping in contact through phone calls, zoom and window meetings.

We are thankful for the New Yorkers with developmental disabilities for accepting the precautionary actions that disrupted their lives, and for adhering to those measures for their safety and that of their peers and staff.

We are thankful for our partner provider agencies who remain steadfast and committed to ensuring people they support and their staff are safe.

We are thankful to other essential workers in our communities who provide healthcare, teach our children, drive ambulances, fight fires, stock grocery shelves and keep stores open, and protect us from harm.

We are thankful for our friends and neighbors whose small acts of kindness and frequent checks remind us that others care.

And we are thankful for our leaders who make difficult decisions and remind us that each of us is responsible for preventing the spread of COVID.

As we sit at our table this Thanksgiving, let us remember our loved ones, peers and coworkers who have lost their lives.  Let us give thanks for the blessings we have, and celebrate with family and loved ones in person or in spirit.  And let us show that love by wearing a mask, maintaining social distancing and practicing good hygiene.  Our lives and the lives of people we care about depend on it.

From the OPWDD family, best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving.


Theodore Kastner, MD, MS