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Do Good

Degage Ministries offers a dignified way to donate, respect, and help panhandlers





Last summer, a Grand Rapids federal judge overturned the state panhandling ban based on the First Amendment right to freedom of speech. Since then, the number of people panhandling at Grand Rapids intersections has increased dramatically. You've seen the homemade signs: 'Homeless,' 'Will work for food,' 'Out of work vet,' and several variations on those themes.

Whether these folks are truly homeless or not may be open for debate, but one thing is certain: Drivers can be uncomfortable with panhandlers. Many want to help but realize that the money they give often goes to feed addictions.

What if we took money out of the equation and changed the way we respond to this need?

Degage Ministries offers a way to help folks who are down on their luck with $2 vouchers. Go to Degage's website, click on the blue 'donate now' button, select 'purchase of $2 vouchers,' pay via credit card or e-check, and a few days later, you'll receive paper vouchers in the mail. The voucher program provides a positive means for both immediate help and long-term support. When a patron uses a voucher at Degage, he or she is exposed to the many services available there.

"You may not have the opportunity to say, 'How can I help you?' but a voucher will give someone the chance to come into Degage for a meal where workers there can sit down with [him or her] and ask, 'How can we help?'" says Marge Palmerlee, director of Degage Ministries.

Each $2 voucher is good for one of the following:

- meal
- hair cut
- one load of laundry
- locker for a week
- pair of shoes

Serving 400-500 individuals daily, Degage Ministries offers help and hope to homeless and disadvantaged individuals in our community. Responsive programming is designed to address both immediate and long-term needs, such as overnight respite for women in crisis, food, referral services, and hygiene facilities.

Get involved:

- To purchase $2 vouchers, email Carole (carole@degageministries.org) or call (616) 454-1661.
- Vouchers are also available online: click 'donate now' and then select 'Purchase of $2 Vouchers' from the drop-down list. You'll receive the vouchers in the mail.
- Volunteer at Degage.
- Donate to Degage.
- Follow them on Facebook.
- Follow them on Twitter.

Source: Marge Palmerlee, director of Degage Ministries
Writer: Victoria Mullen, Do Good Editor

Images: Courtesy of Degage Ministries

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