An Urgent Message from the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Board

DHHS logoMarch 2015

Dear Cherished Friend:

One late night in 1995, a Deaf community leader, Marty Jansen, woke up in bed, clutching his chest. He was having a heart attack. His wife, Dianne, who is severely hard of hearing, called 911 via a TTY (a telecommunications device for the deaf), but the 911 center kept hanging up on them. Finally, she decided to call 911 and used her voice to repeatedly tell the operator their address. It was only at that point that finally the couple were able to get through, and get an ambulance to transport them to the hospital. It was by sheer luck that Dianne had sufficient intelligible speech to convey the address and distress to the 911 center. If a Deaf person with incomprehensible speech was in that same situation, s/he would’ve died.

Their ordeal to obtain equal communication access, however, was not over. During the Jansen’s stay at the hospital, they struggled to obtain qualified, certified interpreters. Dianne ended up having to interpret for her husband often, which caused extraordinary emotional stress. They were extremely fortunate that there were no serious miscommunications that affected Marty’s treatment. When word spread, it was the final straw for many and was a driving factor in the founding of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services in 1996.

We have come a long way since then. However, we’re writing to you because Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services is at a critical juncture. Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services needs your help. A high percentage of our sorely underserved Deaf and hard of hearing consumers of all ethnicities, are of low socioeconomic status and have unique cultural and linguistic needs, which adversely affecting their ability to be self-sustainable. Furthermore, despite generating over 2,000 volunteer hours from over 80 individuals, our resources are shrinking and we are unable to pick up the slack.

Now, aside from our American Sign Language interpreter services, we also provide four programs: the Awareness and Distribution Assistance to Persons with Technology program where our specialists work with low-income residents of Western Michigan who have hearing loss; the KidSigns program where it focuses on Deaf and hard of hearing children from age 3-12, providing education and inclusion, practicing American Sign Language (ASL), acquiring new English and ASL vocabulary, and providing social activities and interactions; our Community Education where we offer American Sign Language classes to the general public; and our Cultural Awareness and Sensitivity Training program where we train the general public, businesses and government agencies how to work with Deaf and hard of hearing individuals.

Yet, our work still is not done. We continue to hear horror stories of Deaf and hard of hearing people being deprived of American Sign Language interpreters or technology that enables them to effectively communicate with others. Our underserved consumers also sorely need an independent living skills program, where they would learn basic budgeting skills, improve their literacy skills, and improve their self-care. We need to continue helping our underserved Deaf and hard of hearing consumers navigate the system such as dealing with the Social Security Administration, the legal and health care systems.

Will you donate to help us better serve our Deaf and hard of hearing communities? Together, we will ensure equal communication access is provided to every single Deaf and hard of hearing person in West Michigan. But it is only possible with your support. Thank you for your time and consideration. We have enclosed a donation form and envelope to make it easier for you to donate.

Sincerely Yours,

Kristin Dart – Board Chair

David VanderKolk  – Board Treasurer

Valerie Boerema   – Board Member

Frannie Higdon  – Board Member

Roman Karpinski  –  Board Member

Sarah Rubingh – Board Member

4328 Kalamazoo Ave S.E. • Grand Rapids, Michigan 49508

616-732-7358 (v) • 616-828-0186 (vp) • 616-732-7365 (fax) •

 P.S. As a special thank you, all donors who donate $500 or more, with permission, will be honored on our donation plaque.

Read more

Show Me the Money!

It’s the time of year again to $ell, $ell, $ell!

Tickets for our popular 50/50 raffle have been distributed and are being sold like hotcakes.

Buy yours now at $5 for one ticket or $10 for three tickets. (If you are not a Quotarian and would like to participate by purchasing tickets, please leave a comment on this post.)

We are expecting a bigger than ever sales which means that the winning ticket could be $ub$tantial! The winning ticket will be drawn at our Installation Meeting on April 16th. 

Quotarians, if you cannot attend the meeting, please turn in your money as requested on the tickets.

We appreciate all you do to help support our Quota Club by participating in this important fundraiser.

A big thanks from your Finance and Fundraising Committee.

Read more


Yvonne Babe, Director of Quota International Region 4, was at our Quota meeting on March 19 to share the great news of the speaker coming to our Region 4 Conference to motivate us in the upcoming year!

Thanks to the generous support of Kim’s firm, Stifel Nicolaus, the featured speaker at our Conference will be Dr. Sherene Mchenry, author of Pick: Choose to Create A Life You Love.

Pick is designed to empower readers to create a life they love and to overcome what’s holding them back. Anchored on awareness, acceptance, action and accountability Pick helps readers develop the mindset and skills they need to build the life they desire. Highly conversational, each chapter starts with a true story, shares lessons learned, helps the reader identify where they currently are and offers suggestions if they want to pick up the pace on realizing their potential and dreams. Apathetic or Energetic? Reactive or Proactive? Naysayer or Yeasayer? Dreamer or Doer? Hassle or Humor? Chaotic or Calm? Tolerate or Terminate? Lollygag or Launch? Pick shows readers how to choose beliefs and behaviors that help them be happy and create a life they love.

The Conference will be held on May 16-17 in Mt. Pleasant. Details and the registration form were in the Leap Pad sent to all Region 4 Quotarians. But if can’t find your copy or you need more information, please contact Maureen Martin.

Let’s all go, have some fun and get fired up!!!!


Read more

Grand Rapids Oral Deaf Program – Annual Golf Outing

The Grand Rapids Oral Deaf Program is holding their annual golf outing fundraiser on Friday, May 8 at Quail Ridge Golf Club. Cost per golfer is $100 and includes 18 holes with cart, gift bag, lunch and dinner!


GROD golf outing 5-8-15_Page_3 GROD golf outing 5-8-15_Page_2 GROD golf outing 5-8-15_Page_1

Read more

Mark Your Calendars!

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services is holding it’s annual Silent Celebration on Saturday, June 6 from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Pinery Park Lodge.

Mark your calendars for this very special event!

Silent Celebration 2015 Flyer with price

Read more

Quota = Fun Programs!

For our meeting on Thursday, February 19, we invited Kelly Cleveland from the Oral Deaf Program at Ken-o-sha. Kelly’s experience as  a teacher of deaf students provided for an interesting discussion and Quotarians asked lots of questions about the program and the students. Quota has been involved with the teachers and students of the Oral Deaf Program for many years. We look forward to finding more opportunities to partner with them in the future.

On Thursday, March 19th, we will be celebrating Quota Cares Month. During this special month our club always chooses an activity that impacts our community. This time we will be learning more about our newest project, “Hear for Good,” a program in which Quota collects used hearing aids that are refurbished and given to low income individuals who can’t afford to purchase brand new hearing aids. We will be making collection boxes for the used hearing aids at our meeting and then distributing them to various organizations (nursing homes, audiologists, etc.) in our community. We already have placed several boxes and look forward to expanding our collection sites.  Yvonne Babe, Quota’s Region Four Director, will also be in attendance at our meeting.

Our April meeting on Thursday, April 16 is our annual installation meeting for new officers and directors for 2015-2016. We will also be holding the drawing for our annual 50/50 cash raffle. This is a special evening for one of our members who will be honored as 2015 Quotarian of the Year.

We always welcome guests from our community who would like to learn more about Quota and what we do for the deaf and hard of hearing. Please contact us if you would like to attend one of our meetings (we meet at Sunnybrook Country Club) or learn more about our service to the community.

Quota International of Grand Rapids

Program Committee

Read more

President’s Message – A new chapter for Quota

We are about to start a new chapter for Quota. It is one that embodies our spirit, our cause and the lives of others. We can do this.

Over the next month or so, we’ll be launching a new approach to our mission. One that is created by what we do, why we do it and the outcome we want. It includes other people who may not have the same dedicated passion as we do about the deaf and hard of hearing, but they are looking for some new knowledge, experiences and opportunities for personal and professional growth.

Many of you have ‘grown up’ with Quota. Some of the people you have admired have left our Club and those mentors are still available to you now as friends you see at social events. But the spark continues in all of us to move forward to let the next generation know that we have so much more to give. You have kindled the fire for so many years and now it’s time for us to build a new fire.

Several other deaf/hard of hearing associations have recently folded. But we’re not. We’re going to collect people with the skills, time and energy to assist in our mission. We’re going to tap into new populations with new mind sets to help us reach the community we serve. We’re going to invite them to lifelong learning.

With volunteers as our partners, we can teach, mentor, enlighten, encourage and learn from each other. Not in a formal manner, like a classroom, but in groups and teams with a problem to solve. Each one of us has something to share, teach and inspire. Each one of us uses our talents and skills every single day. Let’s share what we know.

One of the biggest reasons people don’t want to volunteer is that they feel like they don’t get to use their skills. By golly, we have a place for them on our team!

Every day I learn something new. Something about a Club member, something about the deaf community, something I need to improve about myself.
That’s what keeps me going for more.

Read more