Largely due to the efforts of ADEC driver Kim Nelson, ADEC will be receiving eight new vans between now and September. Also the administrative assistant for transportation, Kim has researched, written and reported on a large Indiana Department of Transportation grant called the 5310 since 2013 with outstanding results.
Jeff Schrock, director of maintenance and transportation, knew it would take a focused and organized person to make the grant process successful so he asked Kim about it soon after she started as a driver.
“I knew her beforehand,” Jeff said. “I knew how she worked. She was all over it. She didn’t have any grant experience beforehand, she just picked it all up.”
Kim took over this grants process after ADEC missed the opportunity for two years. Prior to this, ADEC received vehicles through the 5310 Department of Transportation opportunity each year since the state program started in 1980. When Kim took over the program, the state was still recovering from the recession so grant funds were low priority.
She applied for the 2013 opportunity and learned it was accepted in June of 2013. Two years later, these vehicles are finally arriving at ADEC in the next couple of weeks. Due to the backlog of grant awards, ADEC will receive 2014’s vehicles sometime during August and September. All total, four big and two medium transportation buses and two small vans will arrive at ADEC.
As a result, at least two vans will be retired and transportation will be able to more easily incorporate the day service routes into their normal routines. ADEC will also have a spare for when a van needs to be fixed.
“We couldn’t do it without her,” Jeff said of Kim’s work on this grant. “She’s driven, cares about the agency, very efficient, tries to squeeze a dime wherever she can, has a heart for the clients – she’s the full package.”
The way the DOT 5310 grant opportunity works is the state will cover 80 percent of the cost for purchasing the vehicles requested and granted. For the 2013 grant, the vans cost $375,000 total, and ADEC owes just 20 percent of that total amount for the new vehicles. ADEC qualifies because we provide services to people with disabilities in a partially rural area without a large-scale transit system.
As part of the grant and to show goodwill to the community, ADEC will provide transportation for groups such as nursing homes and children’s centers during agency off hours. One annual tradition is driving around the county on Thanksgiving Day to pick up people who would like to attend the community lunch.
ADEC CEO Donna Belusar lauded Kim’s work on this grant opportunity, calling it a vital activity for ADEC as an agency. She expressed her gratitude while emphasizing how personally responsible Kim is for making it possible for ADEC to receive these buses.
In order to make sure ADEC continues to receive this funding, Kim carefully tracks mileage, activities and the history of the vehicles. In Jeff’s opinion, one of the most difficult elements of this grant is thinking two years ahead every time. Jeff says she claims each year is easier since she can update the application from the year before, but we all know it’s hard work every time.
“She can do anything she sets her mind to,” Jeff said. “Bottom line is I don’t know how we would operate without the grant – because of the vans. I don’t know how we would get that funding.”
Article by Whitney Craig | Communications Specialist
Photo by Rod Tackett | Communications Specialist