Friday, April 19, 2019
LANSING, Mich. – Two utility company employees were celebrated today by state aging officials and the Commission on Services to the Aging (CSA) for recognizing older adults who were in desperate need of help, and for taking swift action to help connect them to local aging services.
For their efforts, Consumers Energy’s Rebecca Newman and DTE Energy’s Marrisha Cargill, were each awarded the 2019 Gatekeeper of the Year award by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Aging and Adult Services Agency (AASA) and the CSA.
Newman helped an older woman who was in distress after recent medical issues. She was having difficulty paying her bills and could not understand how to apply for assistance. In addition, her recent medical issues had left her with limited mobility. Newman was able to recognize the older woman needed immediate help. Newman made a gatekeeper referral, which led to that person being connected the local area agency on aging. She was enrolled in a program that provides daily telephone calls to check on her condition and it also provides access to screening for other services that would allow her to continue to live in her home independently.
Cargill made a referral to a local human services agency for an older woman who revealed, during their phone conversation about paying a bill, that she had no food in her home and that she was hungry. During the conversation, Cargill also learned that the older woman was having trouble paying her bills and applying for her social security. The referral to the local human services organization provided the support the older woman needed to apply for social security and receive food assistance. The older woman’s church also stepped in to help pay for some of her bills, allowing her to stay in her home.
The Gatekeeper program provides information to employees of Consumers Energy and DTE Energy to help them recognize and refer at-risk older adults and people with disabilities to the local Area Agencies on Aging or other local agencies. Each month a Gatekeeper of the Month is named, and from that group, a Gatekeeper of the Year is selected from each participating organization.