BRISTOL — Following the first significant snowstorm in quite a few years, ADEC Inc. faced tough decisions earlier this week as snow piled up and roads became icy.
About 250 people with disabilities rely on ADEC, one of Elkhart County’s largest nonprofit groups, for rides to ADEC Industries and the organization’s day service sites in Goshen, Elkhart, Middlebury, Bristol and Mishawaka. But before drivers buckle up and start their vehicles, a decision has to be made whether it’s safe to head out on the roads.
Jeff Schrock, ADEC’s director of facilities and transportation, said the organization used to rely on local school decisions on whether to delay or cancel transportation, but now ADEC follows its own guidelines, mainly taking road conditions, temperature and snow accumulation into consideration.
ADEC canceled transportation service Monday, Jan. 6, and Tuesday, Jan. 7, because of snow and icy roads. Aside from the Mishawaka program being closed, it was back to business as usual Wednesday, Jan. 8.
Schrock said ADEC has 35 vehicles that pick clients up on weekdays from 14 group homes, five supportive living sites at apartment complexes and private homes. From the day service sites, staff members use another fleet of vehicles to drive clients to their jobs, social activities and errands, such as grocery shopping and medical appointments.
Schrock said ADEC’s transportation service plays an important role for many of the organization’s clients in Elkhart and St. Joseph counties who cannot drive.
“A lot of bigger cities and communities, like South Bend, have good public transportation, but not here,” Schrock said. “That’s why ADEC’s fleet is the size that it is because there’s never really been a public transportation system in Elkhart County.”
Schrock pointed out that the Interurban Trolley runs between Elkhart and Goshen, but sometimes clients have trouble getting to the bus stops and the routes are limited.
“If the clients are at home, they’re bored,” Schrock said. “They’re not just going to work and to the day service sites. Transportation to and from places means going to social activities and meeting with people. It’s their lives.”