My ADEC Story: Jennifer Olson - ADEC

My ADEC Story: Jennifer Olson

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The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a disability as the condition of being unable to do things in the normal way. Well, based on that definition, each and every one of us has a disability. You cannot spell disability, without the root word, ability! So instead of focusing on what a person can’t do, look for the strengths, the things that they can do. That is the first concept that drew me to ADEC.

When I began my academic journey toward a degree in social work, I really had no idea of where or what I would do with it. But that all changed in January 2016. As a senior at Bethel College, I was required to complete an internship. I am not from the Michiana area, so I really had no ideas of where to look, when a good friend suggested ADEC. I had heard about ADEC, from media outlets and other community projects, but did not know how vital this agency is to this community. Nor did I realize at this point, how much my time here would tremendously impact my future dreams and goals.

As an amputee and the mother of a special needs child, I have been exposed to the stigmas and other discouraging factors that those with disabilities face almost daily. But I also know that all anyone wants is to be treated with dignity and respect, to be treated “normally.” People don’t want to be talked down to or treated as anything less than the people they are. And I love that ADEC focuses on abilities, and honing in on potential and strengths!

I began my internship at Bristol Building Two’s Day Service Program, and my first thought was, “WOW! What tremendous opportunities for the clients to create stuff to display and sell.” Then to get a better feel for the diversity of the various day centers, I spent time at the Shoots in Goshen. Well, as soon as I tasted their wonderful coffee at Gaining Grounds, I was sold, and completed my internship there.

Working with clients on vocational skills, such as jewelry-making, pottery and painting, as well as various other crafts to display and sell in the community was the most amazing time I could have ever had!!! Throughout my time as an intern, I can say that although ADEC is a large agency, I felt welcomed and a part of a great group of people who show great passion and joy in the care they provide for their clients.

Upon the completion of my internship, I was afforded another wonderful opportunity to spend some time working at ADEC Industries with the VTC program, where again I was welcomed with open arms! My time with ADEC is coming to a close, as I start the next chapter in my life, by moving home to the Detroit area in Michigan to attend graduate school to obtain my master’s degree of social work.

I will never ever forget my time here at ADEC, and thank all of you for all you do for the clients! You don’t often realize the impact you have on others, but I can honestly say, when you walk into any of the buildings at ADEC, you can see and feel the happiness and joy you bring to each and every one of the clients whose lives you are touching! So keep focusing of the abilities, and be a voice for those who can’t advocate for themselves!!! Thank you, ADEC for proving your motto, Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors!!!

Photo by Rod Tackett | Communications Specialist

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