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DTE Energy employee honored for helping senior citizen

LANSING, Mich. – Cordell Green, a service technician at DTE Energy’s Wealthy Station in Grand Rapids, was named Gatekeeper of the Year by the Michigan Commission on Services to the Aging.

The Gatekeeper Program is a statewide effort by the Michigan Office of Services to the

Aging (OSA) to help identify senior citizens who need help but may not be able to get it for themselves. Each month, the Michigan OSA selects a Gatekeeper of the Month from participating organizations. Annually, the Michigan OSA selects a Gatekeeper of the Year from the 12 individuals recognized throughout the year.

Under the Gatekeeper program, DTE Energy field employees and contract workers are asked to keep an eye out for senior citizens who may need assistance.  Once the referral is made, DTE Energy sends the referral to the appropriate local Area Agency on Aging. A representative from the local Area Agency on Aging contacts the senior, makes a field visit if necessary and involves the appropriate human services and health agencies to arrange for assistance.

Green, a Cedar Springs resident, was making a service call to repair a furnace, when he became concerned for the customer’s well-being.  The 78-year-old woman, who lived alone, was wearing worn-out clothing, her dog was in need of grooming and she spoke of despair, saying that her son visited her once a month and that she was lonely.

What the employee observed and heard were all classic warning signs that an older person is in trouble, or potentially at risk.

On his lunch break, the nine-year DTE Energy employee purchased her a new sweater and made a referral for her dog to his daughter-in-law, who is a pet groomer. Knowing that she could use much more support, he also submitted a Gatekeeper referral.

Because of the Gatekeeper referral, a resource advocate from Senior Neighbors Inc. made a home visit and referred the customer to several senior agencies in the community that could provide assistance. The agency will follow up to make sure that her needs have been addressed.

Green was relieved to hear that the Gatekeeper Referral led to intervention.

“Her situation made me want to do more,” he said. “I knew that she needed help, but also knew that there was only so much that I could do.  I was thankful to know that the Gatekeeper referral led to a home visit and that she would be receiving support from expert agencies.”

For further information, members of the media may contact:

Scott Simons, DTE Energy, (313) 235-8808

Alejandro Bodipo-Memba, DTE Energy, (313) 235-3202