A New Perspective: Employee Volunteer Advocates for Persons with Disabilities

Debra Hines, a Senior Field Planner Analyst based out of Grand Rapids, has served on the board of Disability Advocates of Kent County  (DAKC) for more than eight years. The organization works to help people with all types of disabilities by supporting them as they seek to secure resources needed to help them in live independently.

Debra’s involvement with DAKC began with a friend and fellow Consumers Energy employee, Ira Hart. Ira, who passed away in 2013, was a person with paraplegia who lived and worked independently while using a wheelchair for his mobility. It was Ira who initially convinced Debra to join the board of DAKC.

“Ira and I became really close friends. Ira was a friend, mentor and like a brother to me. Watching Ira really heightened my awareness about physical disabilities,” Hines said.  “Making a quick stop at a convenience store was not quick for Ira, and sometimes an inconvenience. Hopping out of bed, taking a quick shower and getting ready for work in an hour with no obstacles is a privilege. I realized what I was taking for granted was a challenge for Ira.”

Working with DAKC allows Debra to play a significant role in advocating for the independence of persons with disabilities.

“My experiences with this organization have really changed my perspective and heightened my awareness. People with disabilities can often do everything you and I can. It might take them a little bit longer, or they may need a helping hand, but their capabilities are the same. It’s so rewarding to have the opportunity to bring awareness to some of these issues.”

See how Consumers Energy employees are giving back to the community by following #CEVolunteers on Twitter and Facebook. Learn how we’re caring for the communities we serve at www.ConsumersEnergy.com/sustainability.