When Ryan Wengerd agreed to tag along with a friend as a volunteer for Shoots Game Club, he didn’t realize he would be making a career decision.
Ryan attended social work classes with Viv Blakeslee’s cousin at Goshen College. One day, she told him about this program her cousin ran in Goshen for young adults with autism, saying, “Hey, do you want to volunteer with me?”
Initially, Ryan was nervous because he’d never worked with people with disabilities before. But walking in to Shoots Game Club, he felt right at home. “It’s something you don’t get to experience much,” Ryan explained. “You go in and everyone’s welcoming, no drama. It’s just a cool experience.”
As a fun-loving guy with a heart for people, Ryan fit right into the group. He would make everyone laugh with his jokes and just enjoy being himself in a warm, accepting group.
“My only goal in life is to respect others,” Ryan said. “And I want to be respected. [Volunteering at Shoots Game Club] just felt normal – it was enjoyable. When I hang out with people who are grumpy, it’s frustrating. This population equals a lot of happiness and acceptance.”
Each Shoots Game Club night is planned with various games and activities, but once participants arrive, they can choose to play something else or go off and do something different in the Shoots building. It’s a low-key night with a focus on socializing together.
After about a year and a half of volunteering, Ryan’s schedule filled up, and he had to bow out. However, the memories stuck with him through his first job out of college.
Looking to make a career move, Ryan thought about how much he had enjoyed his volunteer work at the Shoots and wondered if he could have a social work career working with people with disabilities. He sent an e-mail to Viv asking if there were any job openings. As luck would have it, Family Services had just put up a new position for a case manager and program manager for Shoots Game Club and Sibshops.
“I wanted to work with this population and ADEC,” Ryan smiled. “I enjoy [Shoots Game Club and Sibshops], and I love working with kids.”
Volunteering with ADEC
With ADEC’s freshly redesigned volunteer program, the path toward becoming an ADEC volunteer has never been smoother. To ensure ADEC client safety, each volunteer is background checked, drug screened and interviewed. They go through a training class lasting one hour and receive a tour of Building Two.
People may volunteer to provide assistance with outings in group homes or lend expertise to vocational training at ADEC Industries. Recent volunteers have worked with clients at Bristol Building Two, provided support at summer camp and assisted Family Services with special projects and afterschool.
Here at ADEC, there are volunteer opportunities for everyone in the community. People with green thumbs can jump in and help plant gardens at group homes. Avid exercisers are free to lead a special class for clients in day services. Whatever your talent is, we can find a match with the people we serve. Click here for a volunteer application, or call Whitney Craig at 574-848-2441 with any questions.
If you’re interested in having your church group, office staff or classroom come in and volunteer, click here for a group volunteer application. Groups of volunteers are welcomed in many ADEC locations to socialize with consumers, do yard work and provide administrative support.
Article by Whitney Craig | Communications Specialist
Photo by Rod Tackett | Communications Specialist