Mike Hedrington, ADEC employment consultant, picked up a Supported Living shift on a recent Wednesday night. As he brought his clients to the weekly ADEC Silver Bullets basketball game, he looked across the court and was transported 30 years back in time to when he was a new staff at ADEC.

His face flushed with pride as he watched his daughter, Kayla, working as a direct support professional with clients from Ashley Court group home. Kayla is just 20 years old, the same age Mike was when he started working at ADEC.

“At the basketball game, I saw myself in her,” Mike said with a smile. “She was just so good with the clients, she gets along with them and you can just tell they like her. It makes me proud.”

Mike and Kayla’s origin stories are very similar. They both started working here during a break from college and uncovered a passion for supporting and working with people with disabilities.

Mike returned to school after a few months of relief work, but decided to come back a few years later because he enjoyed it so much. He spent eight years as a training supervisor at ADEC Industries before applying to work in Community Employment. Since then, he’s spent the better part of 25 years working to create job opportunities and providing critical on-the-job training and support for people with disabilities.

Kayla grew up hearing her dad talk about his work and his passion for helping people with disabilities. She remembers running into clients in the community and being introduced. Several clients remembered her name and would always make a point to say hello when they saw her.

“Looking back, I think [my dad working here] did make an impression on me,” Kayla said. “I heard a bunch of goofy stories. I’d hear about clients, and even meet them from time to time. It just always sounded so fun.”

Now that Kayla’s been working at ADEC for more than a year, she has gained a better understanding and respect for her dad’s work. “I would hear about it, but to see it is completely different,” Kayla said. “I understand why he’s been here for 30 years – because it’s a lot of fun.”

Mike works out of the Community Employment offices at ADEC Industries. Several times a week, Kayla comes by to drop off one of her clients. Mike will see her through the windows and wave, telling his coworkers, “That’s my daughter.” It’s a proud dad moment.

Confidentiality is a big part of working at ADEC. Many of our staff members form close relationships with clients, but can’t reveal personal details outside of the agency. Instead, they settle for telling their families vague stories and hope they understand just how special those clients are.

Mike now has the rare pleasure of introducing his daughter to several of the clients he’s admired and worked with for years. The two of them have both enjoyed getting to put faces and stories together, growing closer to each other in the process.

“We have a lot in common now,” Mike said. “When I started [32] years ago, I didn’t anticipate staying here so long, but I love my job – it’s rewarding. And I can’t imagine doing something else.”

Article by Whitney Craig | Communications Specialist, Photo by Rod Tackett, Communications Specialist