Bill Would Let Seniors Use Medicare Coverage For Hearing Aids.

The Hill  (4/1, Marcos) reports in its “Floor Action” blog that Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) has introduced legislation that would let seniors use Medicare coverage to pay for hearing aids. The article says that digital hearing aids can cost about $4,000, while other devices cost under $1,000. “No one should feel isolated, confused or shut out from the world around them because they cannot afford the treatment they need. This bill is just one piece of the puzzle to bring our fragmented and unnavigable health care system into the 21st century to better serve seniors and families,” Dingell said in a statement.

President’s Message for April, 2015

It is important more than ever to contribute to the Club’s future. We are continuing with the new model but we would like your input on how to move forward collectively.

Many of you have voiced your opinions, but we would like even more participation this coming year. There are several opportunities to get involved, recruit other people and support our focused mission.

I recently ‘attended’ a webinar, 7 Habits of Highly Effective Organizations. It is a model for non-profits to engage their organizations in a variety of thoughtful, productive planning stages along with manageable skills that embrace high performance. The name of the website is  and you will find the document that defines roles, actions and sustainability.

I understand that we are a small club, but that doesn’t mean we have to act that way. I think some of the principles discussed in the webinar are crucial to the continual development of Quota. Please read about it.

We are all leaders of our organization. ‘Work smarter, not harder’ is a motto that was repeated several times during this planning. Now that we have a focused mission, a framework for encouraging others to join us and a future that is promising, we can do this.

Thank you,


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.

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.


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!!!!


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

“I’m proud of my language” — Northview High School students raise money to fly to Gallaudet University

The students have two months left to raise enough money to visit Gallaudet University April 29. Part of their trip is funded by the Northview Education Foundation and a grant from the Grand Rapids Hearing Loss Association. The rest of the trip’s cost is left up to the GoFundMe page their teacher started.

The way these high schoolers communicate, between American Sign Language and English, along with how motivated they are to learn more, is inspirational.

“I’m proud of my language,” said Chase Spencer, Northview sophomore. “I’m proud of ASL, I’m proud of the way I communicate.”

Chase was born in Uzbekistan. When he was 11-years-old, he moved to the United States and started to learn English and ASL.

“My family all of them can hear, I’m the only deaf person in my family,” said Alexandria Martinez.

Alexandria said as she grew up, she learned how to read lips at home. Now she, Chase, and their classmates said, from being on sports teams to biology class with their hearing peers, they are learning and building their English skills at a fast pace.

“The deaf kids can do what the hearing kids can do”: that was the resounding message from these students.

They have a lot of support at Northview: on a daily basis there are several ASL interpreters, teachers, and a program director just in their home classroom. However, at Gallaudet University in Washington D.C., everybody signs.

“Language! They use my language,” said Chase. “They use ASL and sign, and I can learn in my own language. It will be so much better for me.”

After their trip set for April 29, several Northview students said they hope to return there as a college students once they graduate.

“Gallaudet is really a place for the deaf community,” said Megan Ward, Northview teacher for the deaf. “It’s a place where people who are deaf belong. So this is a great opportunity for them to go and experience a world that was created just for them.”

When each student boards their plane come April, they will be one step closer to their future.

“I’m thinking about working in immigration, on the border of Mexico, especially as it relates to deaf people; maybe setting up a home and a school,” said Alexandria

Gov. Rick Snyder makes appointments to Advisory Council on Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing

Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015

LANSING, Mich.– Gov. Rick Snyder today announced the appointments of Elizabeth Bystrycki, of Otsego, Jill Gaus, of Jackson, Miriam Horwitz, of Huntington Woods, and Jeannette Johnson, of Grand Rapids, to the Advisory Council on Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing.

The 13-member council, housed within the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, advises the department on matters pertaining to deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing persons.

“These individuals bring years of valuable experience to this council,” said Snyder. “I am confident their work will continue to support Michigan’s deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing citizens.”

Bystrycki is former chair of the conference committee of the Michigan Deaf Association. She studied at Gallaudet University. Bystrycki represents deaf or hard of hearing persons and replaces Jamie Maes-Eischen.

Gaus is a consultant with DeafBlind Central. She is also an instructor at Lansing Community College and previously taught at Michigan State University. Gaus has experience as a licensed practical nurse. She represents deaf, deafblind or hard of hearing persons and replaces Odessa Carter. Gaus is also appointed as chair of the Council.

Horwitz is an interpreter with English and ASL Community Interpreting, and has more than 10 years of interpreting experience. She earned a bachelor’s degree in musical theatre and education from American University, and a master’s degree of interpretation from Gallaudet University. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in interpretation, also from Gallaudet University. She represents individuals knowledgeable in the field of deafness and replaces Laura Scott.

Johnson is the development director for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services in Grand Rapids. She also has experience with the National Association of the Deaf and Mental Health Services for the Deaf. Johnson holds a bachelor’s degree in public and nonprofit administration from Grand Valley State University. She will represent deaf or hard of hearing persons and replaces Brenda Neubeck.

Appointees will serve three-year terms expiring Jan. 18, 2018. Their appointments are not subject to the advice and consent of the Senate.