Joal Oaks, a longtime ADEC client, loved being outside and enjoying nature. He dreamed of a screened-in porch on the supported living duplex he lived in with several roommates so he could enjoy fresh air even when his staff members were not around.
Although Joel passed away in February, his dream has become a reality thanks to the 29th class of the Elkhart Leadership Academy.
“We still wanted to make it happen in his memory,” said Jeff Wagner, an ADEC case coordinator. “The other guys love it. They really enjoy it.”
When Jessica Koscher, ADEC’s Chief Development Officer, started at ADEC in December 2015, Jeff approached her with the idea for the project. They knew it would cost several thousands of dollars — money that just was not in the budget at the time. But Jessica kept the idea in the back of her head.
Then, when Jessica was approached by the Elkhart Leadership Academy to talk to the class about ADEC, the pieces started falling in place. The Leadership Academy is a program through the Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce that aims to develop leaders through community service and awareness of community issues. Each year, the class is required to complete a service project. This year, ADEC was lucky enough to be selected.
Members of the Elkhart Leadership Academy went out on their own to raise the money for the project, and then they executed it. They braved the snow and mud in the winter and spring to take measurements. The project was completed a few weeks ago.
On Saturday, ADEC clients, staff, friends and family gathered at the duplex to enjoy the new screened-in porch. ADEC staff grilled hamburgers and chicken for the picnic on the beautiful summer day.
ADEC gave plaques to the members of the Leadership Academy who played a key part in making the project happen.
The plaques read: “Thank you for our porch and friendship!” They also included a quote: “We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness; not by each other’s misery.”
Wagner said his clients already love spending time in the screened-in porch, where they can enjoy a breezy sunny afternoon without staff worrying about their safety. Longtime ADEC client Fred Klemm loves to sit on the patio and wave to passing cars.
“It was one of those projects that I never thought would happen,” Jessica said. “But because of the generous community support, our clients now have more freedom and more independence.”
ADEC would like to give special thanks to:
- Al Kreske, 1st Source Bank
- Ryan McDowell, JA Wagner Construction, Inc.
- Cody Newport, Kruggel, Lawton & Company, LLC
- Robert Piechocki, KeyBank
- Rob Probst, Overhead Door Company
- John Ruple, Kem Krest