At ADEC, our employees are the backbone of our organization.
Our employees clock in each day with one mission in mind: Providing exemplary care and critical support to the 1,000+ individuals we serve at ADEC each year.
Our employees are the ones helping the people we serve make their dreams come true, like completing the Chicago Marathon, running an online business or reconnecting with a long-lost family member. They help the people we serve reach new levels of independence and they advocate tirelessly for our clients to be treated with dignity and respect.
Even our employees who aren’t providing direct care — those of them that are working behind-the-scenes in support or administrative roles — are essential in providing choice and possibility to the people we serve.
The work our employees are tasked with is often difficult and exhausting, and it comes with little fanfare.
ADEC’s annual Service Awards Dinner is just one way to show appreciation to the folks who have dedicated their career to people with disabilities. On Tuesday evening, we celebrated 47 ADEC employees who reached a milestone work anniversary of 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 or 35 years.
Combined, these employees have served for 455 years.
Thank you to all of our nearly 400 employees for your dedication and passion.
Anna Price Woods
In 1998, Britney Spears became a pop star with “Hit me baby, one more time,” Google was founded and we were spellbound by the release of the first Harry Potter book. Also in 1998, Delmar Birkey, Becky Curtis and Carrie Ritchie started their careers at ADEC.
Before coming to ADEC in 1998, Delmar had already spent nearly a decade serving people with disabilities. When he moved to the area (and we’re glad he did), he came to ADEC as a community inclusion specialist. He transferred to Ashley Court for a year and then spent eight years in supported living, eventually becoming a team leader.
But Delmar said he doesn’t like being anybody’s boss because it’s not the part of the job he finds life-giving. He has spent the past two years as a DSP at Village Men’s.
Debbie Bloom, the house manager at Village Men’s, describes Delmar as committed. She appreciates his comedic style, his positive attitude and how he sees the positive in every situation.
Delmar remembers working with a large gentleman named Larry. One time while driving, Larry told Delmar that he would love to go camping sometime. Because of Larry’s size – he needed a hoyer lift to be moved – Delmar knew that would be difficult. But he also knew he wanted to find a way to make it happen. Delmar made a bed out of a utility trailer and built a tent from tarps. Using a manual wheelchair and an innertube, Delmar even got Larry into the water to go swimming in a lake.
Delmar was proud of that moment because it’s a challenge very few other people would take on. “I certainly earned my dinner the weekend we did that,” Delmar said.
Becky came to ADEC after spending 14 years at the foundry, 12 of which were spent in human resources. When a position in ADEC’s HR department opened up, Becky saw it as an opportunity for advancement. Her job duties evolved and she started helping out with scheduling and special events, like Ride-A-Bike and the Annual Celebration. Becky had a knack for planning and a passion for spending time with the people we serve, so she eventually became ADEC’s activities coordinator.
Becky remembers being asked to start a basketball team and thinking how she knew more about welding than basketball. But if you’ve been to a Silver Bullets game recently, you’ll know how great of a job Becky did starting something special for the people we serve. Becky also takes a lot of pride in ADEC’s Power for Independence program, where she encourages the people we serve to be advocates for themselves and for their communities.
Brenda Falcone said of Becky: “She is a wonderful asset who truly has the best interest of those we serve in mind at all times. She always goes out of her way to help others.”
Becky’s most cherished memory of her time at ADEC was when Deb Gilbert, who ADEC has served for 20 years, shared her dream of recording herself singing “Silver Bells.” Becky and other ADEC staff found a professional recording studio willing to give Deb time for free, and her dream came true.
“It touches my heart that she had a dream and she stuck with it and it happened for her,” Becky said.
Becky is still moved to tears when she thinks about how Deb thought highly enough of her that she gave her a copy of the CD and allowed her to share it with her family. Becky still plays that CD every Christmas.
Carrie got to know some of the people we serve at ADEC before she even started her career here. She worked at Hardings in Bristol and would see ADEC clients and staff shopping at the grocery store and walking around downtown. Her aunt also worked at ADEC and recalls holiday celebrations spent with some of the individuals we serve.
Carrie started at ADEC as a DSP and worked in several locations, including Village Men’s, Ashley Court, Bridlewood and supported living. She is now the house manager at Parkside.
Program manager Bobbi Davis called Carrie a great combination of a cheerleader and a motivator. She said Carrie cares deeply for the ladies at Parkside and she advocates for them while also encouraging them to stand up for themselves.
Carrie takes pride in her role as a cheerleader. She remembered working with a young lady with autism for four years who could not function in a group setting. After years of one-on-one help, that individual is now thriving in groups at Day Service at Elkhart.
Some of Carrie’s fondest memories of her time at ADEC including coordinating dances at Shanklin Park for the people we serve. Some of those individuals still call her “our favorite DJ.”
25 years ago, Bill Clinton was elected as president of the United States and beanie babies went on sale and started a frenzy. But most importantly, Jodi Taylor and Louise Stemm started working at ADEC.
Jodi Taylor, now a guardian advocate, came to ADEC in 1993 as a DSP for the Hawthorne Group Home, which at the time served young girls with disabilities. When she first started at Hawthorne, she remembers shedding tears every day on her way home and thinking she wasn’t cut out for the job.
But Jodi persisted, and we are so glad she did. She eventually was promoted to manage the Hawthorne home and watched as those little girls grew up and accomplished incredible things.
After spending several years at Hawthorne, Jodi was ready for a change. She worked for a brief time in community employment and then as a DSP and team leader. In 2008, she transitioned into her current role as a guardian advocate.
Tobi Weirich, ADEC’s protective service and guardianship manager, said she has tremendous respect for Jodi and is proud to work with her. Tobi said Jodi does her job with integrity and dignity each day.
One of Jodi’s proudest moments came a few years ago. She was the guardian for a man named Robert who was sarcastic and loved silly hats and gambling. Robert dreamed of going to the casino in New Buffalo, and Jodi helped make it happen. She worked with Robert and another staff member to help him save his personal money so he could make the trip to the casino. He had the best day and could not stop talking about it.
Robert died unexpectedly a few months later, but Jodi was glad to have helped him make a dream come true.
Louise has worn many hats at ADEC. She spent her first 8 years serving as a receptionist at ADEC’s administration building, using a typewriter and paging beepers when there was a missed phone call. During her career at ADEC, she has also managed payroll and served as an administrative assistant at Building 2. For several years now, she has been the Supported Living Administrative Assistant.
The people we serve love stopping to see Louise at ADEC Industries – and not just because she keeps candy on her desk. They know Louise will be there to help and to listen.
Louise’s supervisor, Dawn Akins, described her in a single word: “Dedicated.” Dawn said Louise has worn many hats through her 25 years at ADEC, but each time her job changes, she has taken on the challenge and embraced the opportunity to grow.
One of Louise’s favorite memories of her time at ADEC was when she worked at B2. Because her office was so close to the front door, she was tasked with running outside if any clients decided they wanted to take a break. Louise remembered running after a particularly strong client. She caught up with him, but she wasn’t strong enough to redirect him inside. Instead, the two of them ran circles around the parking lot until someone noticed they were gone.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so we decided to honor our longest-serving employees with videos about their careers at ADEC.