When Ruth Yankey came to work for ADEC 25 years ago, she was just looking for a job that offered insurance for her family. “Then it went from there – the rest is history,” Ruth said with a smile.
Now a DSP at the Goshen Shoots Day Service location, Ruth started as a bus driver. She thought she had no interest in working with ADEC clients full time, but after eight months as a bus driver, she took a job at the Hawthorne group home. At first, she worked part time, then full time for six years before becoming the Med Flex for 15 years. All total, Ruth spent 21 years at Hawthorne.
Hawthorne has always been a unique group home at ADEC. When Ruth began working there, some of the girls were as young as 5- and 6-years old. Ruth and other long-time staff members such as Gale LeCount, Jodi Taylor and Holly VanLue were tasked with raising these eight little girls facing numerous barriers to success.
Watching the girls grow up and being part of such a unique home is part of why Ruth has spent 25 years with ADEC. Over the years, she’s been a part of several key achievements in their lives, but two stick out in her memory.
When Ruth began working at Hawthorne, one of the girls was in a wheelchair full time. After several surgeries on her legs and hamstrings, she now walks! “We retired her wheelchair,” Ruth remembers. “It took a lot of work on her part and on the part of staff because she had a lot of therapies. She’s walking today – that’s a wow! moment.”
When another young lady moved into Hawthorne from an institution, one of her primary goals was to stand unassisted for just 10 seconds. This client did not have any surgeries; she just had the freedom to be out and about with staff. She is also walking today. “That is the difference between an institution and a group home.”
Three years ago, Ruth decided it was time for a change. Working at Hawthorne can be physically taxing since the needs are so great, but Ruth still wanted to spend time with ADEC clients and be a part of their lives. She transferred to the Goshen Shoots Day Service location, and she loves it.
“We’re not supposed to become so attached to the clients,” Ruth admitted. “But when someone walks in the door and gives you a hug and says, ‘Oh, Ruth, I missed you.’ And it’s only been a day, it makes my just makes my heart go.”
As Ruth spoke about her time at ADEC and remembered the stand out moments, she smiled as she recalled a few favorite photos. Some were from the old days at Hawthorne, while others are new with clients at the Shoots. She pointed to a picture of Anthony having a blast baking cupcakes and said, “That’s why I love being here.”
For Ruth, working at ADEC has been an act of service. At both Hawthorne and the Goshen Shoots, she has made memories and impressions on people’s lives. She hopes to continue for a while yet. After all, she is leading the charge for Cupcake Wars at the Shoots.
“For me, it’s more than a job,” Ruth explained. “I have developed friendships with people I never would have before – clients and staff. I know I’ve made a difference in their lives and they’ve made a huge difference in my life. It’s definitely a two-way street.”
Ruth’s Advice for New DSPs:
Look at it as more than a job – it’s an act of service, really. So much more than a job. Look at the difference the clients can make in your life, and what you can do for them.