ADEC welcomed a tour group of educators, counselors and other youth-serving professionals from Elkhart County and surrounding north-central Indiana communities as part of “Postsecondary Pathways: Connecting Education to Careers for Student Success.”

The Indiana Youth Institute, Indiana Chamber of Commerce, Indiana Department of Workforce Development, Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning at the University of Indianapolis, Regional Works Councils, Horizon Education Alliance and other regional employers sponsored this event Monday, Nov. 9, at the Lerner to inform youth-serving workers of opportunities available to their students.

Attendees had the opportunity to choose a career track to begin the day with a tour before heading back to the Lerner for discussion and workshops. Eight people chose to learn more about ADEC as part of the social services track.

Kathy Royer, Associate Director of Horizon Education Alliance, opened the ADEC tour by instructing the participants to think about what a career pathway at ADEC would look like for their students.

Lisa Kendall, VP of Human Resources, and Laura Zalas, Recruiting Specialist, spoke with participants, introducing ADEC’s history and mission, as well as highlighting the available positions here. For many, the takeaway was how a student could enter ADEC employment as a Direct Support Professional at 18 years old and begin a successful upwardly mobile career.

When the group toured ADEC’s Bristol Day Service facility, they had the opportunity to speak with Debra Dunn, Program Manager of the facility. Dunn came to ADEC as a Direct Support Professional seven years ago and worked her way up to the highest management level in day services.

“I love what I do,” Dunn explained. “I love being able to advocate for my clients.”

During the tour, Day Services Director Don Wierenga emphasized the flexibility his employees experience in having the opportunity to pursue their passions in the workplace. Direct Support Professional with an affinity for ceramics initiated and run a successful vocational room, while those with a love for woodworking train clients in their vocational area.

“I hear DSPs consistently saying they’re here for our clients,” Wierenga said. “People come in and really make relationships. And what I like about day services is they can really do what they like and enjoy.”

Participants engaged in discussion with ADEC staff before, during and after the tour. Some asked why staff members chose to work at ADEC, others asked serious questions on employment statistics and some were curious as to how art is sold to the public.

Upon leaving ADEC, the event participants headed to the Lerner Theater to discuss potential career pathways at ADEC with the rest of the attendees and learn what they came away with at places such as Elkhart General Hospital, Interra Credit Union, and Roosevelt STEAM Academy, among others.

Article and photo by Whitney Craig / Communications Specialist