From the moment Beth Price was hired at ADEC in 1991, she’s kept an open mind and gone with the flow. She never imagined where it would take her.
“One day, my girlfriend came to the daycare where I had been working for several years, and said, ‘Beth you would be great at ADEC,’” Beth remembers. “She gave me a number to call, that was on a Monday or a Tuesday. I called and said who I was. The lady said, ‘Oh, good! I’ve heard all about you. Can you start Thursday?’”
For eight years, Beth served as the Infant Room Supervisor for this partnership program between ADEC and Elkhart Community Schools. During this time, she actually delivered a baby herself, taught teenage mothers how to care for their infants, provided care while mothers finished high school and worked with the children to build hands-on skills and prepare them for educational success.
Even then, Beth was observing and learning about what made ADEC a special place to work. She recalls a time when she was in desperate need of staff one day. As she held two babies and had another wrapped around her leg, she started calling around ADEC to see if anyone could come and help out. She finally ended up being transferred to Cary Kelsey, the director of developmental and visual impairment services at the time.
“This was the big boss,” Beth remembers. “I described what was happening and asked if he knew of anyone who could come help. He said, ‘Give me a few minutes, I’ll find someone.’ A few minutes later, in walked Cary Kelsey himself. He surveyed the room and said, ‘What can I do?’ I thought, ‘I can’t ask him to do anything!’ He asked again, ‘Do you need help?’ And I nodded. He picked up a baby and was on the floor and in the trenches with us that day. At that point, I realized, this is a man of character. It stuck with me that a man in that position would pick up a smock, get to work and not care about the ‘persona’ of his position.”
Beth would always look for other work during the summer breaks, since the Teenage Parent Program only ran during the school year. After eight years on the job, ADEC’s courier asked if she would want to be the back-up one summer. In this position, Beth would drive a route to the Post Office and all of the ADEC locations throughout the day to deliver packages and papers back and forth. She eventually became the full-time courier, working under the financial controller.
In her spare time, Beth would work on data entry and learn new tasks from the controller, Marlyn.
“I think Marlyn saw the potential and started taking the lead to teach me accounting,” Beth says. “I remember him saying, ‘You’re part detective. You find things out and you listen.’ I’d come back and he’d say, ‘What did you learn today?’ I go to see how all of the departments work. I remember Employment Services at the Depot. They worked so hard at placing people. I’d go to ADEC Industries and I’d see clients using huge, dangerous-looking machines, but our staff knew how to keep them safe.”
When ADEC phased out the courier role, Beth became a bookkeeper in the financial department. As she kept her ears open and picked up more accounting knowledge, she moved into an administrative role for the accounts. By then, Beth knew what she wanted at ADEC – she wanted the Accounts Payable position.
However, the person who was in that role seemed in it for the long haul, and Mike McIntosh, CFO at the time, approached Beth with another position in client payroll. Beth had never done anything with payroll before so she told Mike, “I have no experience.” Mike said, “That’s fine, I’ll teach you.” As Beth accepted the job, she told Mike she would love the Accounts Payable position if that ever came open.
While Beth was learning new skills and continuing to grow in her role at ADEC, she was also working with ADEC clients and gaining a better understanding of ADEC’s mission. “Marlyn always said, ‘Mission first, people always.’”
With this mindset, the finance department had policies in place at the time that allowed employees to help out with programs that were short staffed. They would adjust work hours so financial employees could lend a hand in the field as well.
Beth spent a lot of time working at ADEC Industries during down times. She began assisting when a staff member had the idea of doing art with clients. “I could just see the clients’ wheels start turning. They just wanted to participate and they’d engage. We had some clients we thought were nonverbal, and they’d eventually start speaking. I remember seeing the clients be proud of what they were doing because they were accomplishing something they could take home and say they made.”
ADEC’s impact on the lives of the people we serve really hit home one day when Beth went over to ADEC Day Services at Bristol. She walked in and recognized a client sitting at a table working as a man she always saw when she would volunteer at a nursing home every other week with her church in high school. He had always seemed so listless and unengaged. Even then, she knew something was not right, but she didn’t know what resources were available for him.
It was the same man, but he was completely transformed. “He was so happy and engaged,” Beth remembers. “Not someone who just sits in the corner anymore. I asked about him, and the staff said, ‘We actually rescued him from a nursing home.’ They used that word – ‘rescued.’”
After a few years working in account payroll and working with Mike to learn the system, the Accounts Payable position came open. Beth waited a few days to see if Mike said anything, and then she went to her office to ask. Mike smiled and said, “I thought you might ask about that job.”
Again, Beth told her she did not know everything about this role, and she would need to learn. Mike said she would teach her.
“Between Marlyn and Mike, they instilled confidence,” Beth said. “They were teachers. They explained things so we knew what to ask for. And we learned very quickly that auditors loved us because we follow the rules.”
Beth has been happily working as ADEC’s Accounts Payable Manager for several years now. As she reflects back on her time at ADEC and looks toward the future, she hopes she will be here “for 99 more years.”
“When you reflect on our clients, sometimes it’s exciting when you see – wow, they’ve gone somewhere,” Beth says of what motivates her in her work at ADEC. “I look back at the many people we have lost – staff and clients. And I think, they would be proud. I’m proud that I’ve been a part of ADEC, and I hope that continues.”
Photo by Rod Tackett | Communications Specialist