The choice was clear.
When a vacancy opened for a team manager at the ADEC Day Service at Mishawaka, Director of Day Services Ann-Marie Cruz knew there was little time to lose. Even in the absence of a leader, there were dozens of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities who were counting on care.
Ann Marie needed someone she knew well and could trust to step into the position at Mishawaka.
Enter: Paula Holmes.
Paula started with ADEC as a direct support professional in 2007 and worked her way up to team manager at Day Service at Bristol.
“She’s a real advocate for the individuals we work with. She’s done a great job of fulfilling the mission and vision of ADEC for the folks we love so much.”
-Ann Marie Cruz, Director of Day Services on Paula Holmes
Although Paula was excited for the challenge, she didn’t think she was going to stay. She thought it was a temporary thing until a permanent replacement was found.
But the Day Service at Mishawaka grew on her, and now she doesn’t want to leave.
“They told me if I liked it, I could have it,” Paula said. “At first I wasn’t really crazy about it, but now it really means a lot to me.”
When she first arrived, Paula decided the clients needed more structure through their day. Now, they have morning coffee or juice, followed by news. Then, they might do drumming or break off into vocational work.
It’s far more engaging than what Paula believes they had before.
“She’s really enhanced the choice and possibility for individuals,” Ann Marie said. “She’s expanded their vocational options, different things that may not have been offered before, she’s offering them now. She’s expanded the art offerings, she’s expanded cooking options, she’s really stepped up the exercise parts of the program and listened to the self-identified needs of clients.”
As clients walk around the large main room, there’s an upbeat, positive feel. Some work on crossword puzzles or chat with friends while others have their eyes on the TV.
It’s a warm feeling of community that Paula’s brought, which has helped the individuals we serve realize their potential and establish a life of their own.
It’s clear that she wants to continue expanding the vocational elements of client life. When she first arrived, little artwork was being created and being sold in the Art by ADEC store in Bristol. She wants to change that.
And since she’s arrived at Mishawaka, the day service has gained two more clients. Ann Marie wanted to add more clients over the next couple years, and said she’s elated that Paula has helped push Mishawaka toward that goal in just a few months.
“I can see her just being creative and adding in more opportunities for learning and growth, not just the individuals who participate, but also the DSP’s there,” Ann Marie said. “She’s looking for a qualified and really enthusiastic lead to help her build that program.”
While she’s helped improve the lives of those who are at Mishawaka, she’s also bringing some fun.
Every Friday is movie day and the main room turns into a theater. Paula makes sure that even getting ready for the highly anticipated movie day involves vocational training.
Clients often bake desserts to be eaten during the movie, which can range from pudding to Jell-O.
“Oh, we do a lot of baking,” Paula said with a smile. “I believe we did taco items once. But they really love baking desserts. Who doesn’t?”
When it’s not movie time, she plans to have clients playing bingo, doing a singalong, participating in a game day or enjoying themselves on iPads.
Since she’s arrived, the choices and possibilities have become endless.
“She has an excellent work ethic and she has great interpersonal skills and a fantastic way of relating how she perceives individual possibility and choice on a day-to-day basis,” Ann Marie said. “She isn’t the kind of person to just sit behind a desk. She wants to be active and involved, and she gets a lot of positive feedback from families about that.”