When Deb Buras was hired at ADEC in 1993, she never imagined staying for 25 years. Now she couldn’t imagine retiring anyplace else.
Deb, who grew up in South Bend, was unhappy with her work in accounts payable. Her brother, who worked at ADEC Industries at the time, was moving to Kentucky and encouraged Deb to apply for his position.
“He convinced me it was something I could do, and I’m so glad he did,” she said. “I just loved it.”
As the invoicing and records coordinator at ADEC Industries, Deb acts as the liaison between ADEC and the more than 100 companies who contract work out for ADEC Industries employees to perform.
The employees of ADEC Industries, who have intellectual and developmental disabilities, perform packaging and assembly services for a variety of industrial customers while also receiving practical training and a paycheck. Deb’s role is communicating with those industrial customers about the status of their jobs, ordering the parts necessary for employees to perform the jobs, and sending invoices when the jobs are complete.
Deb has also been instrumental in launching the Silver Linings trash can liners operation at ADEC Industries. ADEC Industries is now Indiana’s State Use program supplier of plastic trash liners, manufacturing the bags that are used in state facilities across the state.
Deb’s role has evolved over the years, but she has stuck with it.
“I’m a person who doesn’t like to change jobs,” she said. “I’m loyal and I’m comfortable with my job at ADEC.”
Although she does not provide direct care and is often in her office communicating with customers via email, Deb said she loves the relationships she forms with the people ADEC serves.
“The people we serve are so uplifting,” she said. “Even if I’m having a rough morning, I’ll walk through the hallway and get high fives and ‘good mornings,’ and everything changes.”
She looks forward to her daily salute from Ben Janzen, which she returns, and has a special relationship with Shayna Miller.
Shortly after Deb’s grandson was born with Down syndrome seven years ago, she brought him to ADEC Industries for a Christmas party and Shayna immediately bonded with him. Shayna, who also has Down syndrome, would always ask Deb for updates and pictures on her grandson.
“Working at ADEC has given me hope for my grandson and what kind of future he can have,” she said. “I have also been able to help my daughter-in-law as she wonders what will happen when she gets older. We know that there are great resources available for people with disabilities.”
Deb is also grateful for the relationships she has formed with her colleagues at ADEC over the past 25 years. She was moved to tears as she recalled the kindness her coworkers showed her five years ago as she was battling breast cancer.
Ann Yoder, who hired Deb back in 1993 but has since retired, and Ivy Pritchard, now the production manager at ADEC Industries, wanted to know that she was not alone in her cancer battle. They nominated Deb for a free makeover and spa day through Hello Gorgeous!, a nonprofit that aims to uplift women battling cancer with “red-carpet” treatment.
Ivy wrote in the nomination:
“We recently just learned she was diagnosed with breast cancer. I can’t even imagine how scared she must have felt. As co-workers/friends we were definitely on an emotional rollercoaster. It’s difficult when you’re not sure how to be supportive without being over-powering or offensive. I know a day of pampering would help uplift her spirits. She dedicates herself to those around her daily, so it would be nice to do the same for her in return. It would be a blessing to give her a gift that helps outweigh the negative, at least for a moment! Her fight to keep pushing on and never give up hope is inspirational. I think she is amazing! I know only she can fight the cancer, but I want to show her that she has a circle of friends that are here to embrace her on this journey.”
On that day back in 2014, Ann told Deb that they would be attending a computer training. Instead, they entered Fix Salon and Spa in Elkhart, where Deb was pampered with a facial, pedicure, manicure, makeup and a new custom wig.
Deb has been in remission for five years now, but she is still overcome with emotion when she recalls the kindness her colleagues at ADEC showed during that time.
“It was so special,” she said. “I can’t begin to explain how much that meant to me.”