While it has been wonderful to have waiver clients back in the day centers for a month, the staff and clients miss their residential friends who are not scheduled to return until July 6th. They all also missed another thing – birthday parties.

The staff at the Bristol Day Center always takes time to celebrate a client’s birthday but realized that they missed two and a half months’ worth of them while the facility was closed this spring on account of the pandemic. The staff and clients usually make a small sign and a gift bag for a client’s birthday and present it but this wasn’t an option in these unique times.

An idea started with Denine Caldwell, went to team manager Ashley Frayre and a simple solution emerged for how to celebrate over a dozen birthdays and also have the clients see their friends… a rolling birthday party! The idea took off. A van became a bus and then two busses. Over half days on Friday and Tuesday, balloon-clad ADEC busses rolled through a 14-stop itinerary of ADEC and personal houses around Elkhart County spreading birthday joy.

“We were looking at birthdays and there were 18 people who weren’t here for their birthdays,” DSP Hailey Farris recalled. “At first we (the staff) were going to deliver them after work and then it became a client thing and then it became EVERYBODY because so many people wanted to go.

“It was fun to see them be proactive in something they are not normally proactive with. It wasn’t just another birthday bag. They got to go see their friends that aren’t here yet and really went to work on the bags and signs.”

Through Bristol, Goshen and Elkhart, the balloon-emblazoned ADEC buses rolled on carrying a client birthday caravan. Like a self-contained community outing, this wasn’t just another day at “B2.”

“When we got to the houses, they’d all get really excited, run to the windows and wave,” Farris said of the experience. “They were screaming ‘HAPPY BIRTHDAY’ at the windows. They had signs and balloons and were very excited.”

The event was simple yet revealed much about the agency. The friendships between the clients and the bonds between the dedicated #TeamADEC staff and the clients were evident. A delightful reminder of how all of ADEC is a family could be seen on roads all across Elkhart County.