Disability Advocates names development director

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Peggy Helsel Courtesy Disability Advocates of Kent County

A local nonprofit that serves individuals with disabilities named a new leader of development, marketing and community outreach.

Disability Advocates of Kent County (DAKC) said it hired Peggy Helsel as its new development director. Helsel will lead DAKC’s funding development, marketing and community outreach efforts.

She previously was the director of development at Heartside Ministry.

“Peggy brings a wealth of experience and community connectivity to our existing work,” said Dave Bulkowski, executive director of DAKC. “She has done a great job honoring these past efforts and, at the same time, she has already brought forward many new creative ideas on how to grow the community’s awareness of Disability Advocates and grow the number of our supporters.”

Helsel said she has been familiar with the work of DAKC for quite some time as she assisted her mother through her disability in her later years.

“Just being in a wheelchair proved difficult, as we would have to tackle curbs, stairs and while managing her oxygen tank, which was never easy. It made me realize our world is not as accessible as it should be. I am excited to be part of the solution,” she said. “DAKC has such a wonderful history of making a difference and creating positive change. I am grateful for the opportunity to promote that mission.”

Helsel has about 20 years of experience as a staff member and volunteer helping to make a difference in the lives of vulnerable individuals, including as a board member with North Kent Community Connect and United Methodist Community House, ATHENA committee member with the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce, stewardship council member for Our Lady of Consolation, member of Heartside Neighborhood Business Association and community advisory committee member for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

She holds a Bachelor of Science in business administration from Aquinas College.

Founded in 1981, DAKC advocates for an accessible and welcoming community and works alongside people with disabilities as they seek to lead self-directed lives. The organization provides information and access to community resources, housing, employment, transportation and veterans’ assistance. Through these programs, the nonprofit assists thousands of individuals each year.

DAKC also advocates for public policy changes and accessibility at the local, state and federal levels. The organization hosts several annual community events and campaigns to raise awareness for its work, such as Absolutely Accessible Kent County and Disability Awareness Day.

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