In 1999, Denis had the opportunity to become President of the Bethlehem Community Development Credit Union in Chattanooga. Bethlehem is a non-profit credit union, which serves the poor and under privileged. When Denis became president, it was in very bad shape, and on the verge of closure. His pay was very low for such a position, but he took the job because he thought it could be salvaged, and was such an asset to the community. Within two years, he improved the Bethlehem Credit Union to the point that it was not only solvent, but is still in business today. In 2003, Denis was selected to head up the newly formed Bradley Initiative Credit Union, which provides credit service to disadvantaged here in Cleveland.
Denis' achievements have been way above that of the average person, but there is another part of him that most people who know him are completely unaware. In 1949, Denis was born with a serious birth defect - his spine was exposed, and the sac of spinal fluid was on the outside of his body. Denis was born with spinal bifidia. His mother was told if he lived, he would never walk, and would be confined to a wheel chair for the rest of his life. At a young age, Denis began to show his determination, learning to crawl with just his arms, dragging his lifeless lower body behind him as he did. After numerous surgeries and over two years of his young life spent in hospitals, Denis finally took his first steps when he was in the fifth grade.
Despite never using his condition to get ahead, Denis was named Tennessee's Handicapped Citizen of the year. It is ironic, when I first met him in 1972, I noticed he walked with a limp, but I never realized until several years later when he received that award, he was really "handicapped."
I feel Denis will be an asset to the city council. His financial expertise, coupled with his proven ability to work with people with a broad range of financial backgrounds, makes him an ideal candidate.
Editor's Note: Joe Kirkpatrick is an independent writer with independent political opinions.
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