Terri Dickus works in a demanding field; adult day services. She is the Activity Director at St. Agnes Adult Day Services, which provides day care, socialization, and a variety of other services for adults with disabilities. Dickus plans out and participates in the day-to-day schedule, and despite its challenges, she is thankful for her role and sees it as a huge privilege.
Dickus is a Hebron resident who moved to the Region from Indianapolis. She started her career in day services after opening up a children’s day care, partially out of pragmatism at first. It seemed like a sensible choice for a stay-at-home mom looking to start working.
“I wanted to enter the workforce and ended up purchasing a closed adult day care and reopening it so that my children could be there and I wouldn’t have to get someone else to watch them,” Dickus said. “So I prayed and asked God to send me children who really needed me.”
After moving to the Region, she started looking for work in a similar field but wanted to find something where she could leave a truly lasting impact on people’s lives.
“When I owned a children’s day center I didn’t feel like I made a permanent difference in their lives because I only had them until they were 6 years old,” she said.
Her search ultimately led her to St. Agnes, where she immediately knew that she had found her calling.
“When this position opened up, I decided to check it out to see if an adult day center was run differently than a children’s day care,” Dickus said. “When I walked in the door I just fell in love, and the rest is history. I felt like I was home.”
St. Agnes’ services not only help their guests function at their highest, happiest level for as long as possible, they give their families and caregivers the opportunity to work and rest while knowing that their loved ones are being taken care of. Being a part of that process keeps Dickus motivated.
“In adult day care, I feel like I make a difference every day of my life,” she said. “I feel like I’m making someone’s last days better than they would have been, and we’re letting those family caregivers get a respite and continue their lives.”
Outside of her work at St.Agnes, Dickus’ big focuses are her faith and family, which are everything to her. Happily married for 40 years with four children, they have stayed close long after the kids have left the nest.
“We’re very close, and it’s great because we’re more than just mother and children,” said Dickus. “We’re best friends. We like to go and do things like hiking together.”
While she is not a Region native, and wishes that it would stop snowing in the middle of April, Dickus grew to love the area, and Valparaiso especially.
“I love the fact that it has a small town feel where everybody knows everyone, but it feels cultured,” she said. “I never feel the need to go to Chicago because we have great cultural things here. I love that I we’re not a ‘mall city’, I love being able to walk down the streets of Valparaiso and visit the shops or go to the park.”