ADEC adapts to COVID-19 in order to keep serving the community
ELKHART, Ind. -- “What it means to me is I get to meet new friends, and meet the staff that is here, and play Uno with the friends I know from school I know here – it means a lot, it is important to me,” says Jasmine Hester.
Jasmine Hester has utilized ADEC’s services for the past 3 years. Her mom, Melissa Barker, says the day program offers her daughter more than just a traditional education, but it also teaches her life skills and how to interact with others.
“I’d say it is a lifesaver because it helps her socialize especially with this pandemic going on, otherwise she is stuck at home. She needs to get out with her peers,” says Barker.
ADEC has served individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in both Elkhart and St. Joseph County for more than 65 years. Now, with the COVID-19 crisis, the non-profit is facing an unprecedented challenge.
“It is actually if you look at one of the biggest hurdles or challenges you have in this space, it is the isolation that is effecting individuals,” says ADEC President and CEO, Donna Belusar.
Belusar says the coronavirus pandemic is causing some clients to feel isolated and that the time alone can potentially lead to depression and behavioral issues.
So how have they adapted?
“So one of the services that we really changed is how do you do services like therapy through technology, so iPads, connecting them online. We also are doing that with employees that have disabilities that are working in the community, and they still need that coaching but you can’t get into that job site, so we work with them online,” says Belusar.
Besides using technology as a tool, ADEC is doing what it can to ensure day program participants are still able to meet in person safely. Staffers are tasked with enforcing social distancing, mask wearing, and sanitization guidelines to protect everyone involved.
“We have been very fortunate that our staff has been very creative and making things so that it isn’t so different for them, and they still have a place to go where they feel comfortable and that they can be taken care of,” says Vice President of ADEC Non-Resident Operations, Michelle McGuin.
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, McGuin says they’re working to give group home residents as normal of a celebration as possible.
“The staff there will make sure the thanksgiving dinners are prepared and that they have that normality in their life. Some will be able to go home to their parents, but it will depend on what is happening in their own home life,” says McGuin
ADEC is also sending a powerful message during these difficult times.
“But to the community, my request and request on behalf of ADEC is try to please follow the protocols because you are saving a life you may not feel it directly but indirectly you are saving a life,” says Belusar.
Find ways to support ADEC here.