Once a month, Lauren Eby heads over to ADEC’s Shoots Game Club in Goshen for a night full of fun conversation, pizza and games with more than 40 other people who fall into the 18 to 24 age range. For Lauren, a newcomer to the Goshen area, this has been a great way to make friends and connect to a segment of her community she may not otherwise have the opportunity to know.

You see, the Shoots Game Club is fairly exclusive. It’s only open to young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 who are on the autism spectrum. Volunteers are always welcome to join in the fun, but they must also fit in the same age range.

When Lauren moved to Goshen from Grand Rapids, MI, in the summer of 2015, she wanted to find a way to volunteer. Working in downtown Elkhart, she regularly passed ADEC’s Main Street location and decided to do some research.

“I’m still new to the area, and this is an organization that piqued my interest,” Lauren said. “Mainly because you guys provide empowerment. People who come to the Shoots tell me about their jobs and how they like being here. It’s a full circle of operation – fun, opportunity, training and friendship.”

Lauren had volunteered with the Special Olympics in the past and has a family member with disabilities, so she felt especially passionate about the opportunity to create friendships. After speaking with ADEC’s volunteer coordinator and going over her schedule, it became apparent that Shoots Game Club was the perfect fit for her.

“You guys did a good job of finding a niche for me, using my experience, interests and schedule,” Lauren said. “The relationship side is what’s so cool [about Shoots Game Club]. I get to know people better and it really does become a friendship. It’s a two-way street. I listen to them and they listen to me . . . That’s why I keep coming back.”

Volunteering with ADEC

Here at ADEC, there are volunteer opportunities for everyone in the community. People with green thumbs can jump in and help plant gardens at group homes. Avid exercisers are free to lead a special class for clients in day services. Whatever your talent is, we can find a match with the people we serve. Click here for a volunteer application, or call Whitney Craig at 574-848-2441 with any questions.

People may volunteer to provide assistance with outings in group homes or lend expertise to vocational training at ADEC Industries. Recent volunteers have worked with clients at Bristol Building Two, provided support at summer camp and assisted Family Services with special projects and afterschool.

With ADEC’s freshly redesigned volunteer program, the path toward becoming an ADEC volunteer has never been smoother. To ensure ADEC client safety, each volunteer is background checked, drug screened and interviewed. They go through a training class lasting one hour and receive a tour of Building Two.

If you’re interested in having your church group, office staff or classroom come in and volunteer, click here for a group volunteer application. Groups of volunteers are welcomed in many ADEC locations to socialize with consumers, do yard work and provide administrative support.

Article by Whitney Craig | Communications Specialist

Photo by Rod Tackett | Communications Specialist