Willard waits for Steve to make his play.

Willard waits for Steve to make his play.

It was supposed to be a men’s-only poker game, but the group in charge – Steve, Willard, Nate, Nathan, Matthew and Matt – bent the rules and invited a woman to play.

That invitation, said Paula Shively, retiring CEO from ADEC, Inc., based in Bristol, IN, was one of the highest honors she’s ever received. That and an invitation to drink tea with the ladies at the same day program.

“I also got to be part of a tea party there and wore a hat, which I don’t think I’ve worn a hat since I was 10 years old and stopped going to church with my grandmother,” she said. “It was fun. It was a wonderful day.”

Paula Shively, wearing a hat, selects a finger sandwich during a tea party at ADEC's Middlebury Day Program.

Paula Shively, wearing a hat, selects a finger sandwich during a tea party at ADEC’s Middlebury Day Program.

Shannon and Bridgett enjoy their tea party, especially wearing hats, at ADEC's Middlebury Day program.

Shannon and Bridgett enjoy their tea party, especially wearing hats, at ADEC’s Middlebury Day program.

“That one afternoon,” she said, “encapsulated what it means to be part of ADEC because there were gentlemen there who played poker so much better than I did, but they were very kind, and they protected my dignity.”

The men in Middlebury's Day Program concentrate on their next move during a Thursday afternoon poker game.

The men in Middlebury’s Day Program concentrate on their next move during a Thursday afternoon poker game.

ADEC, an agency whose mission is to advocate for and provide services to individuals with cognitive and developmental disorders, surprised Paula with its highest honor, The Mary Workman Award, Monday, Oct. 28, during its Annual Dinner and Awards Night. She wasn’t expecting it. When her name was announced, she was standing at the front of the banquet room waiting to present the award to someone else.

And then she realized it was for her.

Bridgett Lundy, a client in the Middlebury Day Program where the poker games and the tea parties occur, handed Paula the award, an acrylic flame engraved with her name. The award and accompanying standing ovation left Paula almost, but not quite, speechless.

“I don’t know what to say,” she began. “This is the highest honor I’ve ever had … except maybe for the invitation to play poker at the Middlebury Day Program.”

And she told the story of the poker game and tea party.

Almost, but not quite, speechless, Paula Shively tells the story of playing poker and attending a tea party at ADEC's Middlebury Day Program.

Almost, but not quite, speechless, Paula Shively tells the story of playing poker and attending a tea party at ADEC’s Middlebury Day Program.

Her remarks were quoted in The Elkhart Truth newspaper http://www.elkharttruth.com/article/20131029/NEWS01/710299919 and reporter Angelle Barbazon’s blog at etruth.com. http://blogs.etruth.com/ontherecord/2013/10/29/paula-shively-bids-adec-an-emotional-goodbye/

We wanted to show the rest of the story by providing the pictures.

Congratulations, Paula, for being the first recipient of ADEC’s Mary Workman Award and one of only a few women allowed to play poker at Middlebury.

Paula Shively holds The Mary Workman Award, ADEC's highest honor, presented to her Oct. 28, 2013.

Paula Shively holds The Mary Workman Award, ADEC’s highest honor, presented to her Oct. 28, 2013.