2013 ESL Jefferson Award Winner: Michael Palermo

Posted at: 05/01/2013 2:00 PM
Updated at: 08/29/2013 12:53 PM
By: Don Hudson

Michael Palermo calls himself a gopher. If something needs to be done, he is there to make it happen.

He quickly admits that in his younger years, helping out was not his thing but once he started, it became everything. “The more I did and the more pleasure I derived from doing it, the more I sought the pleasure. I can't make it any simpler. The more I wanted to do it.”

We asked Palermo how he got started volunteering. He said, “I can't place it. Much of it came about by accident." An accident that changed his life and eventually the lives of many others.

This is probably one of my proudest volunteering days."  Palermo is referring to the day a group of referees in the Rochester Chapter of Certified Football Officials helped out a Brockport High School student. “To do a fund raiser for a kid who lost his leg to cancer."

Palermo has been instrumental is all kinds of charity work. He helped start the all star basketball game that has raised more than two hundred thousand dollars for the Ronald McDonald House.

He coordinates volunteers for the Eddie Meath football game that benefits the Golisano's Children's Fund. Of course, this takes both time and effort but those who know Palermo say he makes you forget that.

Tim Arden said, “He draws people in because he is doing the things and he gets excited about them. He doesn't even look at it as volunteer work I don't think. He just says what can I do and go do."

While Palermo is humbled by the recognition he is getting right now, he admits as he reaches out to volunteer, he gets a lot in return. “When I have walked away from a situation where I have spent sometime or worked with someone, I've walked away feeling pretty good about me, about being able to do something."

And the 77 year old says that makes it easy for him to look for ways to continue to help others. We asked him if the volunteering ever stops. He said, “I don't think it will stop. There are a lot of causes out there."