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Consumers Energy and the Michigan Commission on Services to the Aging Celebrate 20 Years of Helping Older Adults
Date:6/11/2008

LANSING, Mich., June 11 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- While many things have changed since 1987, there's one constant in a service jointly provided by the Michigan Commission on Services to the Aging and Consumers Energy. That service is called the Gatekeeper Program, and it involves providing assistance to older Michigan residents who need help, but may be unable to get it themselves.

Consumers Energy joined as a partner in the Gatekeeper Program to provide extra "eyes and ears" through the utility company's employees who have direct contact with natural gas and electric customers. Over the past 20 years, Consumers Energy employees have referred nearly 5,000 older adults to the Gatekeeper Program, allowing them to receive assistance with essential, often life-sustaining services.

State Representative Mike Simpson (D-Jackson) and other members of the Michigan Legislature today recognized Consumers Energy and the Michigan Office of Services to the Aging for their partnership in the Gatekeeper Program, in an event held at the state Capitol. "Caring for older adults often takes more than immediate family members. I'm proud to recognize Consumers Energy and the Michigan Office of Services to the Aging for their outstanding partnership," said Rep. Simpson.

"The Gatekeeper Program shows the potential in all of us to look out for our elderly neighbors," said Sharon L. Gire, Director, Office of Services to the Aging. "We are pleased that through this program, Consumers Energy employees have an opportunity to raise their awareness, understanding, and concern for those in special need."

Gire noted that many Consumers Energy employees have gone above-and-beyond normal efforts and have been recognized as Gatekeeper of the Month, and Gatekeeper of the Year.

Tiffany Dewald, a customer service representative at Consumers Energy's Alma service center, was recognized as the 2007 Gatekeeper of the Year at today's event. Last September, Dewald spoke to a customer who received a shut-off notice. The customer had fallen and was unable to get around and said she couldn't afford to visit the doctor or buy food. In response, Dewald submitted a referral on the customer's behalf through the Gatekeeper Program. Dewald's actions helped the customer receive assistance through agency referrals and nutrition assistance information.

"We are more than just an electric and natural gas business. Our employees care about our customers as they have demonstrated time and again through the Gatekeeper Program," said John G. Russell, president and chief operating officer for Consumers Energy.

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

Consumers Energy, the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy, provides natural gas and electricity to nearly 6.5 million of Michigan's 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties. For more information, visit, http://www.consumersenergy.com .


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