Volunteer Deborah Holmes Aims to Educate
|Deborah Holmes and husband, Douglas, volunteer at a Step Out event.|
Deborah Holmes had plenty of good reasons to become a volunteer with the American Diabetes Association. They just happened to come all at once. In 1999 and 2000, her mother died, her aunt lost a leg, and her stepfather had a stroke—all because of type 2 diabetes complications—and her husband was diagnosed with the disease. It was high time, Holmes thought, to become more educated about diabetes and to spread the word about how people could prevent complications.
Now Holmes, 62, of St. Louis, is one of the ADA's most active volunteers, serving on the national Adult Strategies Committee and African American initiatives subcommittee and as outreach initiatives chair for her local board. She takes special interest in the Association's Project Power® program, which is aimed specifically at African American church communities. As a pastor and former station manager of a Christian radio station, teaming up with the ADA has been "a marriage made in heaven," Holmes says.
For more than a decade, Holmes has been part of her local ADA office's outreach efforts, which include recruiting local groups to offer diabetes and other health screenings to people in her community. The results, she says, have been effective: At her first event, 10 people were identified as having undiagnosed diabetes—including the hosting pastor. Education can make all the difference in a person's health. "My goal is, I don't want you ignorant," Holmes says. "Paul said that in the Bible: 'Brethren, I would that you not be ignorant.' If there's someone that can give you advice, and steer you in the right direction, isn't it worth your life to take advantage of it?"
Holmes says she's constantly learning about diabetes herself, so that she can share information. From attending American Diabetes Association EXPO® events to meeting with health care advocates from around the country, she's working on outreach. Her efforts have been noticed and appreciated by Cathy Hartmann, director of the ADA's St. Louis office. Holmes embodies the passion, drive, and commitment that every director hopes to find in a volunteer, Hartmann says: "She inspires me to work hard and stay the course until a cure is found."