Cathy Schaefers

By Rachel Brown
ADEC Staff

Cathy Schaefers is the voice behind the phone when you call ADEC Industries in Elkhart and the first person you see when you enter the industrial building. Sure she may appear to be a receptionist, but Cathy is more of a Jack (or Jill) of all trades. Cathy has worked at ADEC for more than 33 years, serving in every department but one, Transportation. But who knows, there is still time left to remedy that omission!

When she was first hired in 1980, Cathy served as the admissions secretary working behind a desk in the hallway outside the atrium at the corporate headquarters in Bristol. Next, she assumed the title of Secretary for Diagnostic & Evaluation Division in Bristol. When the admissions process was absorbed into the Day Services and Residential departments, she moved to Elkhart to become department Secretary for Visual Impairment. She continued her secretarial duties with Visual Impairment for about five years while simultaneously working as secretary for Community Relations in Bristol. Yes, she worked part-time in Elkhart and part-time in Bristol for about five years.

In 1989, when ADEC received a grant to administer the pilot program for Northern Indiana Independent Living Services (NIILS), a program providing visual impairment services to seniors in five counties, Cathy shifted to full-time duty for both Visual Impairment and NIILS. That job kept her office in Elkhart for about 14 years. During that period, she helped organize the annual Christmas dinners for the American Foundation for the Blind, the Tuesday Ladies craft circle, and the annual dinner for visually impaired in Elkhart County sponsored by the Lion’s Club.

When the NIILS building was sold to the Elkhart Community Schools, she moved back to the Bristol campus and received one more duty assignment – Children’s Services. Somewhere in there she was asked to help out Employment Services two days a week at the Work One building in Elkhart. During that time she delivered mail to the Y and Employment Services, assisted with Adult Habilitation at Building 2 one day a week, and filed records for human resources a few times. As you can see, Cathy has worked in most of ADEC’s programs. What a feat! Her biggest challenge, she says, came when she provided secretarial support to four different departments at the same time, shifting from one building to the next depending on the day, or even shifting mid-day.

But Cathy doesn’t play favorites when it comes to departments. “The agency in general is my favorite,” she says, “because I have experienced most of the departments in one way or another, met many wonderful folks inside and outside of the agency. The reward is being here for over 33 years.” She did describe one event as unforgettable and history-making. “Certainly the Special Olympics was a thrill to work on and to volunteer with my children,” she said. “Standing on the field with hundreds of Special Olympic athletes was an experience I will never forget.”

The highlight for Cathy, though, as with most ADEC staff, has been getting to know the clients. “After seeing all the client names on paper for years, I have become acquainted with so many of them, and they with me. What a treat for me!” she said.

Cathy’s story is just one of many stories of our devoted ADEC staff.