Dégagé Ministries launches $1.3M fundraising campaign for expansion

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Dégagé Ministries is looking to raise $1.3 million from the public as part of an overall $6.7 million campaign to expand its facilities and increase its capabilities to serve more meals, provide more wellness activities and add more beds to its women’s shelter program. Rendering courtesy Dégagé Ministries

Dégagé Ministries this week is officially kicking off the public fundraising phase of a $6.7 million campaign to expand the nonprofit’s footprint and services.

The downtown Grand Rapids faith-based homeless mission at 139 Sheldon Ave. SE is looking to raise $1.3 million from the public as part of an overall $6.7 million campaign to expand its facilities and increase its capabilities to serve more meals, provide more wellness activities and add more beds to its women’s shelter program.

Dégagé Ministries said it will host a private event 9:30 a.m. Wednesday at its downtown campus, where leaders will speak about the campaign and call for donations.

“Dégagé Ministries ensures that our city continues to be a place of possibility for everyone,” said Marge Palmerlee, longtime executive director at Dégagé. “To meet growing community needs, we are expanding our capacity and advancing our mission by constructing a new, three-story building and renovating our current facility. The expansion and renovation project will allow us to help more people find the path to a more sustainable future.”

The expansion will include:

  • A larger dining room to serve 90,000 meals a year (50% increase in capacity, from 120 to 180 seats)
  • A day wellness center providing 1,000 to 2,000 new wellness visits per year
  • A workforce development center with expanded programming to serve 900 to 1,000 attendees per year
  • An expanded Open Door Women’s Center, including rooms for women and their children, providing 3,000 to 3,500 new overnight stays per year. A 65% increase in overnight shelter capacity and third-shift sleeping space (from 40 to 66 beds).

According to Dégagé, over 10,500 people in Kent County used the homeless system in 2018, 3,400 of whom were children.

In the past four years, there was a 94% increase in chronic homelessness, and nearly 40% of U.S. working people making under $40,000 have lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic, and women have been impacted the hardest, Dégagé said.

Dégagé Ministries offers a home base for anyone experiencing homelessness or poverty. People can buy a hot meal, take a private shower, rent a locker and get an ID at the nonprofit. Women in crisis are embraced with emergency shelter and counseling. Dégagé also walks alongside those in need as they navigate obstacles and work toward a more sustainable future.

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