Local nonprofit leader receives statewide award for outstanding service

Marge Palmerlee, Executive Director at Degage Ministries, has received the 2013 statewide Liberty Bell Award from the State Bar of Michigan (SBM) for her passionate work at the ecumenical organization.

The Liberty Bell Award is given each year by local bar associations, in conjunction with Law Day, to honor outstanding citizens within the local community. This award recognizes outstanding service performed by a non-lawyer citizen who has given time and energy to strengthen the effectiveness of the American system of freedom under law, in keeping with the spirit of the Constitution.

Palmerlee began her journey with Degage 20 years ago when she and her then-13-year-old son began volunteering at the ministry. At the time, Degage had four employees and served coffee every evening to about 50 people. Palmerlee knew they could do more. It wasn't long before her passionate giving led to the next logical step: attaining the position of executive director a few years later.

"We started meeting with people and asking them how we could help them in their journeys," Palmerlee says. "We listened to their most pressing needs and we acted."

That action resulted in the addition of a laundromat, hair salon, and showers; expanding their dining room; and starting a state ID program, as well as other programs and services, most recently the Voucher Program, which offers a commonsense solution to panhandling.

Degage also added Open Door, an overnight center for women who need a safe haven. Since its inception in 2003, the center has served more than 2,000 women. As for Degage, the ministry now serves about 500 people per day, 10 times more than it did when Palmerlee took over.

Established in 1967, Degage Ministries helps build relationships and offers programs that foster dignity and respect. Degage Ministries is an independent 501(c)3 ecumenical organization.

Get involved:
- Learn more about Degage, how to volunteer, and how to donate on their website.

Writer: Victoria Mullen, Do Good Editor

Images: Courtesy of Degage Ministries
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