ELKHART — ADEC’s annual celebration featured Indiana Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch as keynote speaker, marking the 67th anniversary of the organization.

The event was presented in the Crystal Ballroom at the Lerner Theatre by the Community Foundation of Elkhart County. It serves as an opportunity to update ADEC’s shareholders on activities at the nonprofit, which is geared at enriching the lives of the intellectually disabled, and is a gathering time to meet with staff and clients and discuss the future of ADEC.

“We’re only as successful as those that we represent,” ADEC President/CEO Donna Belusar said.

ADEC recently finished its 2019-2021 strategic plan. It includes five elements of smart growth; a great workforce, great workplace; outstanding client satisfaction and excellence in service; highest quality standards; and financial sustainability and stewardship.

Crouch is serving as chairwoman for a state-funded taskforce geared at improving resources available for individuals with intellectual disabilities.

“While we can never guarantee success, we can provide opportunities for a successful outcome,” Crouch said.

A draft report will be reviewed by the taskforce in January.

“While there’s been much work done already, there is one area that has not been addressed yet and it pertains to the workforce crisis for direct support staff,” she said.

The most recent biennial budget contained no additional funding to address pay, improvement or retention of such workers. It’s just one of the things that the report indicates, she said.

“Once the task force says we should make these changes, then the legislature will start listening,” ADEC Communications Manager Michelle Sokol said. “They’ll start putting laws into action that will give us more money to pay our DSPs so we can provide better services. This really gets the word out there that our services are important.”

Awards were given to several ADEC clients who were recognized for their work and determination throughout the past year.

Alex Kennedy received the Creative Spirit Award, Marvin Garris received the Heart of the Game Award, Aja Miller received the Weekday Warrior Award, Tony Hall received the World Changer Award and Cheryl Lashmit received the Dare to Dream Award.

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