BRISTOL — Legislators representing Elkhart County met with ADEC officials Thursday to learn about the services offered at the organization’s Bristol location.
“I’ve been in Elkhart County for 60 years and I remember doing Ride-A-Bike in second or third grade,” said state Sen. Blake Doriot, R-Goshen. “I’ve never been here, so it’s high time I came.”
State Rep. Curt Nisley, R-Goshen, touted ADEC’s management of MDC Goldenrod Project Promise, a program to meet the spiritual and social needs of adults with disabilities. As the son of a founder of the program, Nisley said he volunteered there as a youth and with his family as an adult.
State Sen. Linda Rogers, R-Granger, also toured the facilities and met with clients.
“It’s wonderful to be part of a community that does such good things for the disabled community and bringing them to be an integral part of the entire county,” Rogers said.
Executive Director Kim Dodson of the ARC of Indiana, a statewide organization advocating for people with intellectual disabilities, said the meeting was about fostering relationships.
“When (legislators) go down to the statehouse, we want them to be able to remember ADEC and the people they serve and the important work that is done so that when they make a vote, they know who it impacts.”
ADEC Executive Director Donna Bellusar said ADEC wants to ensure that the disabled community remains in the minds of local legislators as they enter the next session.
“We want to show them what the legislative work they do makes possible for individuals with disabilities,” Bellusar said, “Medicaid and all of the funding that they push through decision making that comes through the state of Indiana.”
Legislators Nisley, Doriot and Rogers toured the facility, exploring activities possible in each area – from the sensory room to woodworking to sewing to cooking – and spoke with ADEC officials about other programs the nonprofit offers for the disabilities community.
“We know that it can take years for things to happen (in the legislature) so we want to give them good data,” Bellusar said.
The Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Task Force was established during the 2017 session of the Indiana General Assembly and is headed by Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, who updated those at ADEC’s recent annual celebration on progress made by the task force.
The group is tasked with gathering input and prepare a comprehensive plan for implementation of community-based services provided to people with intellectual and other disabilities. Members are holding meetings twice yearly, with the next one in January.
State Reps. Christy Stutzman, R-Middlebury, and Doug Miller, R-Elkhart, are expected to tour ADEC’s facility later this month.