GET TO KNOW US!

Our mission is to enrich the lives of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community by promoting equal communication, advocacy, social opportunities, community resources and education to all.

ABOUT US

Deaf, Inc., dba Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services, is an independent 501(c)3 agency serving Grand Rapids and surrounding areas since 1996 (incorporated in 2002). As the sole full-service agency for the Deaf and hard of hearing communities in West Michigan, we fill 3,000+ interpreter assignments annually, and provide further services through American Sign Language classes, Cultural Awareness and Sensitivity training, equipment assistance and advocacy, and a children’s educational resources program in West Michigan.


Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services is supported by Quota International, The Weller Family Foundation, the Peter C. and Emajean Cook Foundation, the MI Health Endowment Fund, and private donations. Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services strives to create a positive impact on deaf and hard of hearing individuals’ lives and help them realize their full potential in society as productive, independent, capable and contributing citizens.

OUR HISTORY

1996

Established as a program under Life Guidance Services


1998

Moved to Disability Advocates of Kent County

2002

Became an independent and incorporated 501(c)3 nonprofit

2006



2009


2014

Established the Hearing Assistive Technology program


Established the Youth program


Established the Sensitivity Training services under the Community Education program

OUR CORE VALUES

We hold our Core Values close to us. Everything we do is based off of these core values.

  • We value the individuals involved with the Deaf and hard-of-hearing communities.
  • We value our partners and vendors.
  • We value our interpreters 

OUR STAFF

DEB ATWOOD - EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

I am the Executive Director of this wonderful agency. I oversee the general financial management including budget forecasting, purchasing, planning operations and other financial or related functions to ensure the financial integrity of our agency. I supervise and assist the Development Director in reaching goals related to sales and fees for service and profitability. I am also responsible for negotiating contracts, gaining new customers and managing staff effectively so we can maintain existing customers by building relationships with them.


I lend upper management support to our Interpreter Services Specialist, Hearing Loss and Technology Specialist, our accountant, and administrative assistant. Human Resources responsibilities include maintaining staff personnel records and affirmative action.


I enjoy swimming, boating, decorating and landscaping our new home, and spending as much time as possible with my grandkids!


NANCY CLULEY - HEARING ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY SPECIALIST

In my role, I will be primarily working with those under age 60, to provide hearing loss assistance, with a focus on obtaining hearing aids and/or adaptive technology such as alarm clocks, amplified phones or personal amplifiers.


I raised a daughter (Hannah) with hearing loss which I believe has helped make me aware of the challenges which come with hearing loss. Additionally, I was on the board and Program Chair for the Hearing Loss Association of the Greater Grand Rapids Area, both which gave me additional exposure to advocacy and education which I hope to utilize in my new role. I am very excited to serve you and look forward to meeting you in the future.

BOB SPAMAN - BOOKKEEPER

I am the bookkeeper for D&HHS. Raised in the Grand Rapids area, my wife and I have five children and four grandchildren. My career has been in the financial area in the private sector as well as the governmental sector in Western and Eastern Michigan. I am a graduate of Grand Valley State University with a bachelors and a masters degree in accounting and finance.


I am very happy and excited to work for and learn more about this organization as well as the benefits it provides to the community. I look forward to providing financial management as I connect with all the members and friends of D&HSS.

I enjoy various sporting activities especially baseball and basketball. I also enjoy woodworking, model building, working outside on the yard and especially spending time with my grandchildren.






RENITA CREASY, YOUTH PROGRAM COORDINATOR

I'm a RID certified interpreter with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice from Baker College, and mom of 2  children who have Auditory Processing Disorder (APD). I'm a native speaker of both English and American Sign Language.


In my role as Youth Program coordinator, I manage the program's bimonthly activities and summer camps. I work here at D&HHS because I love children and I have a passion for people to know that no matter what their situation, they can do anything they want. It just may be done differently, and that's perfectly okay. It makes the world more fun, after all!  









LINDA VANDER LEEK - INTERPRETER REFERRAL SPECIALIST

Linda Vander Leek is excited to join our team as our new Interpreter Services Specialist. She maintains a list of professional sign language interpreters who work for D&HHS as independent contractors.  West Michigan courts, hospitals, colleges and all kinds of businesses and government offices call her when they need a sign language interpreter, and she arranges the scheduling details of the interpreter job assignment.


Linda recently graduated from Baker College’s ITP program and is currently pursuing her BEI Certification. She lives in Holland with her husband, Mike, her 2 sons, 16 year-old Alex and 11 year-old Cody and her Golden Retriever, Bear. Both of her sons earned their scuba diving certifications last summer and she is hoping to earn hers this spring. She enjoys cooking, reading and spending time outdoors.


LINDA BYLSMA, VOLUNTEER COORDINATOR

Volunteers are a critical piece of the success of D&HHS. The Volunteer Coordinator position is just launching. The staff and I will be matching volunteers with their interest areas, and directing them so that their strengths are used in the best way.

I learned of D&HHS while raising a Deaf daughter, Rachel. My husband Frank and I used D&HHS guidance and resources during her growing years. We also have three grown hearing children. I am retired from a nursing career, which focused on Surgery and Quality Assurance for Surgery

The Staff at D&HHS has impressed me immensely with their vision, their efforts, and the effect that they have had throughout the community.  When I say community, it is a HUGE community that spans 26 counties in the State of Michigan!  D&HHS is a committed, non-profit organization that I am proud to serve.

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Jennifer Kolhoff

Workshop Coordinator

    I am the Workshop Coordinator for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services.  In my role, I find topics of interest for future workshops from various sources like polls and surveys.  Workshops that are offered are often-times based on what working interpreters want and need to maintain their certifications in the state of Michigan.  Because of this, we request RID and MDCR/DODDBHH Continuing Educational Units or CEUs for all of the workshops that we host.  It is my responsibility to find topics of interest, locate an appropriate presenter for the topic, and handle all of the background paperwork so that everyone gets the CEUs they need.  We tend to hold workshops for interpreters, Deaf community members, and ITP students on a regular basis covering topics that fall under the main categories of interpreting.  Medical/Mental Health, Legal, DeafBlind, and Educational/Skill-building.


 I also am a full-time educational sign language interpreter working in a local school district Monday through Friday.  I am a mother of identical twin teenage boys, Mason and Logan, and a teenage daughter, Hailee.  I have been married to my husband, Lance since 2000.  We enjoy spending time outdoors camping, fishing, and relaxing.  I’m happy to have started working for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services just after graduating from Lansing Community College’s ITP in 2016.


TESTIMONIALS

I just wanted to give you some feedback on last night. What a feat, huh? To manage to get ahold of the right people and pull this thing together in the short amount of time you had is totally amazing (in 4 days). Kudos to all of you, including Sandy (Faulkner).


I generally don’t get too excited about events that have a lot of “hoopla”, but last night was an exception. Regardless of where one may stand politically, it has to be one of my most favorite events of all time to interpret for! The energy and enthusiasm in the room was infectious.


The bottom line is, two individuals who initially thought they would be unable to attend an event were able to go and have equal access and participation! Thank you for giving me the opportunity! It’s just a reminder of how much I love my job and the satisfaction that it gives.


– An anonymous interpreter

HELEN TOMPSON

D&HHS brings so many programs to our community. The commitment of every person from staff to volunteers is unparalleled! It is an honor to be an interpreter for D&HHS!


– Bobbi B., RID Interpreter


In my role as a Community Liaison, I have the privilege of working with many community agencies who share a common mission with Hospice of Michigan–“to serve those who seek out their services, regardless of circumstance”. Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services, a non-profit organization serving the deaf and hard of hearing in our community, is one of those stellar agencies!


This past year, I had the opportunity to do a training on “end of life care” for their membership group–it was a wonderful learning experience for me, and raised my awareness tremendously to the needs of the deaf community, especially at end of life. Since then, I have had the good fortune to continue to collaborate with Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services through community events aimed at raising awareness and advocating on the behalf of others.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services’ mission, to enrich the lives of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community by promoting equal communication, advocacy, social opportunities, community resources and education to all, is a mission everyone can get behind and support! At Hospice of Michigan, we are proud to be a community partner!


 –   Margaret Howard



"I’m happy with my hearing aids. I have enjoyed TV better, even though the TV is louder. But I work with it OK. I thank you and your staff for making this possible for me. Thanks."


– William H., a hard of hearing consumer


“My life has changed so much for the better. The staff hooked me up with resources which I never knew existed and made it possible for me to afford hearing aids. I no longer have to read captions on my television. I can actually carry on conversations in groups. The audiologist who was recommended to me was very caring and helpful with things like how to clean my hearing aid. I’m so thankful for this service.”


- Terri Ambrose, a hard of hearing consumer



The day I got my hearing aids, the first thing I did was to turn down the volume on my TV and car radio. I was very surprised at all I was missing. I love not having to ask people to repeat what they have said to me. … Thank you so very much for making this possible. God Bless!


– Judi O., a hard of hearing consumer