The Palmer Home opened its doors in Columbus, Mississippi in 1895. Its mission then, as now, was to rescue children and to restore their lives. The social fabric of our entire world has changed dramatically in the last 122 years, and those changes have multiplied the number of at risk children around the globe. Mississippi has not been spared the crisis. Drake Bassett, President and CEO at Palmer since 2012, speaks of a “revelatory” learning curve that opened his eyes to the unimaginable plight today’s children face when they are abandoned, abused, or neglected. Palmer’s mission all these years later is defined in those same original words—“to rescue and to restore.” As Drake says, “The mission hasn’t changed, but the scope has widened.”
Prior to coming to Palmer, Drake had spent a good 20+ years all over corporate America. He had entered the professional world during the technology and information revolution of the 1990’s. He worked his way up the corporate ladder through about every division as well as across America, literally, from sea to shining sea. He started with IBM in sales and ended up as the CEO with a Nielson Company based in New York City. The son of a minister and a longtime Christ follower who wanted to live out the gospel, Drake came to a defining moment when he began to look at his life and ask, “Where is the gospel in what I am doing? I had to look honestly and say, I don’t actually see myself living it out.”
The historic Lindamood Building has welcomed thousands of children through its doors since 1895.
The good life was good, but there was something missing. Where was a gospel impact in what he did every day? He began to pray and even search online for Christian nonprofits that were looking for leaders. Drake did not feel, however, that his work in the corporate world had been wasted. If anything, he felt that the skills he had honed in the business world could possibly be valuable in the ministry world. The potential position at Palmer Home appeared much sooner than he expected, but it was clear from the first meeting between Drake and the Palmer Board of Directors that they were all on the same page.
There is energy and an enthusiasm at Palmer, something you feel from the moment you open the front door of the antebellum administration building that once upon a time housed everything and everyone that was the Palmer Home. This is such a happy place. There does not appear to be even one half-hearted soul among the staff. Everyone working here seems to be completely in love with the people and the place.
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