An update from ADEC VP for community outreach Cherri Peate:

So much of ADEC just feels empty right now without the daily smiles on our clients’ faces that make us all smile right back. We will continue to be vigilant to protect our medically-vulnerable clients and the loyal ADEC staff which serves them by pausing the majority of our services over concerns for the welfare of all involved due to the novel coronavirus. However, we all just can’t wait to see our day centers and other facilities be vibrant and filled with joy once again.

Even if we don’t see the majority of our clients on a daily basis any more, in many ways we are doing more than ever for them in this time of global crisis. Behind the scenes, ADEC’s ever-present but seldom-discussed advocacy arm has been in constant motion as the lethal threats of COVID-19 encroached upon our Indiana home.

Even with our limited yet essential base of operations, we continue to serve 189 clients in 35 residential settings across St. Joseph and Elkhart counties. We are their long-term care provider through Medicaid. Their lives are literally in our hands and we do not take this responsibility lightly.

On ADEC’s behalf, I have spent much of my time recently directly messaging and speaking to our elected representatives at all levels of government asking them to be cognizant of both individuals with IDDs and the non-profits who serve them as they assess not only the restrictions needed to keep our community safe but also the unfortunate dire economic implications of those difficult but medically necessary actions.

Our friends at the Arc of Indiana and INARF have been in steady communication as Indiana’s IDD community bands together. Whether it is a physical need like additional personal protection equipment, a financial need for stimulus bill inclusion, or general guidance from our elected leaders, ADEC has been actively involved on a constant basis to advocate for our clients.

The relationships ADEC, the Arc, INARF and other IDD advocates have built with local, state and national government officials were crafted over a long period of time. There’s an old saying that an emergency is not the time to be exchanging business cards – that’s because you’re best prepared to navigate the crisis if you are already familiar with those you will be leaning on and vice versa.

Those steady relationships have been paying off since the COVID-19 crisis struck. ADEC is as well-positioned as possible at the moment but this critical advocacy work must continue for as long as this crisis lingers and beyond.

On behalf of the entire ADEC family, I would like to sincerely thank all of our friends on capitol hill, in the Indiana Statehouse and around both Elkhart and St. Joseph counties for listening to our pleas and keeping the vital needs of both the IDD community and the non-profits that support them in mind as we all navigate one of the more perilous crises our great nation has ever faced.

I hope our friends are staying safe and can return soon. We miss seeing our entire ADEC family, but know that we are still here for you.