2010 Gatekeepers of the Year Honored

Contact: Carol Dye (517) 373-7876
Agency: Community Health

May 21, 2011

The Michigan Office and Commission on Services to the Aging have chosen this year's Gatekeepers of the Year, Jodi F. Rubin of Consumers Energy and Debra Wilkerson of DTE Energy.  They will be honored at a Commission luncheon being held on May 21, and a letter from Governor Rick Snyder acknowledging the critical component of their efforts in helping to protect vulnerable older adults will be presented.

The Gatekeeper Program recognizes utility employees monthly who have gone above and beyond in referring potentially at-risk, often isolated older customers to appropriate aging services.  This contributes to their quality of life and helps them to remain in their community.

The program operates on the premise that older adults having difficulty with their utilities may also be having difficulty with other aspects of their lives.  Referrals are then made to Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) who offer information, guidance, and assistance so they may live safe and healthy lives with the dignity they deserve.

Ms. Rubin and Ms. Wilkerson, Virtual Call Center Customer Service Representatives, received information related to elderly customers needing assistance.  Upon further discussion, they were referred to their local AAA who made personal contact with the seniors, when it was realized their needs went far beyond a late bill.  The customers were provided with services allowing them to remain in their own homes that they may not have otherwise known about.

"Ms. Rubin and Ms. Wilkerson have displayed tremendous insight, and compassion toward older adults in their work," said Jerutha Kennedy, Chair of the Commission on Services to the Aging.  "I commend them for extending themselves to help others.  They truly are unsung heroes."

Assisting well over 5,000 older Michigan citizens since the program began, it is a proven, exemplary model of partnership between the public and private sectors.  The program was initiated in 1987 by Consumers Energy, with DTE Energy joining in 2009.  The Gatekeeper of the Year Award is sponsored by the Office and Commission on Services to the Aging, in cooperation with these two companies.

The Michigan Office of Services to the Aging is the state resource for information on aging in Michigan.  For more information, please visit www.michigan.gov/miseniors.