Michigan Office of Services to the Aging Honors 2011 Gatekeepers of the Year

Contact: Phil Lewis (517) 826-8312

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 20, 2012

LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan Office of Services to the Aging (OSA) today named Melissa Bateman of Consumers Energy and Andre Hunter of DTE Energy the 2011 Gatekeepers of the Year. Bateman and Hunter were honored today with a plaque and letter from Gov. Rick Snyder thanking them for their extraordinary efforts.

The Gatekeeper Program is made possible through a partnership between Consumers Energy, DTE Energy and Michigan's aging network. The program identifies seniors in need through the utility company's employees who have frequent and direct contact with natural gas and electric customers. If an employee identifies a senior in need, a referral is made to an Area Agencies on Aging so they can offer information, guidance and assistance.

The Gatekeeper of the Year recognition is given to an individual from each company who goes above and beyond to help protect seniors in their area.

Bateman, a customer service representative, fielded a call from a senior and through a series of questions identified that she needed help. After a referral, the Macomb County Department of Senior Citizen Services visited her home and helped get her the services she needed - transportation, health and food assistance.

Hunter identified a senior that needed help after visiting his home to fix a gas leak. He immediately contacted his supervisor and submitted a Gatekeeper referral. Hunter was so concerned about the resident that he stayed with the man and delayed his next assignment to ensure help was on the way.

"The Gatekeeper Program is a proven, exemplary model of how the public and private sectors can work together to help Michigan residents," said Kari Sederburg, Director of the OSA. "Melissa Bateman and Andre Hunter showed tremendous awareness and compassion for others with their kind acts. OSA is thrilled to be able to honor them for their commitment and dedication to protecting Michigan seniors."

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For more information, contact the Office of Services to the Aging at (517) 373-8230 or visit www.michigan.gov/miseniors.