Allegan General Hospital Awards Extraordinary Women in the Community


During its Girls’ Night Out event on Wednesday, October 14, Allegan General Hospital (AGH) and the AGH Foundation recognized Marcia Beare, Dr. Marcia Liepman and Dawn Sherman with its 5th Annual Spirit of Women Awards.

Marcia Beare
Marcia Beare of Martin was nominated by Carol Visser. Carol Visser shared, “Marcia works hard to break down communication barriers as well as educate and inspire the community to accept disabled populations as contributing members of society and as professionals.”

Marcia lost her sight at the age of two due to a rare childhood cancer. Following high school, Marcia was guided towards a degree in social work because at the time it was a socially acceptable job for a blind person. She earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology at Calvin College and then went on to get her master’s degree in social work from Western Michigan University. However, her dream and passion was to become a physician even though her research found less than 20 blind persons have ever become physicians.

After graduate school, Marcia served as executive director at the Martin Resource Center, a food and clothing bank in Martin. Marcia stated she has always enjoyed volunteer work and in 2008 she started volunteering at Seeds of Grace (later becoming Renewed Hope Health Clinic).

Marcia volunteered in many positions along the way and now is the executive director at the Renewed Hope Health Clinic. The clinic is run completely by volunteers who commit their time and energy to assure that people in Allegan County who have no insurance coverage are still provided quality medical care. All client services are free.

She credits the clinic’s medical director with reigniting her desire to pursue a pre-med path. Marcia remembered the clinic’s medical director telling her, “I’m tired of you complaining that you always wanted to be a doctor. Why don’t you just go back and do it.” So in the spring of 2011, Marcia returned to the campus of Calvin College and started the journey to becoming a doctor.

Marcia is currently finishing up pre-med course work at Calvin College, in addition to serving as executive director of Renewed Hope Health Clinic. She will soon begin applying to medical schools. Marcia would love to eventually work at the Renewed Hope Health Clinic as a doctor. With over 20 years of experience in mental health – social work, she feels psychiatry would be a good fit.

“Marcia is motivated to assure that everyone in Allegan County has equal and prompt access to good medical and mental health care,” said Visser. “Renewed Hope started in a building that did not serve its patients or volunteers well. The clinic is now housed in a building centered on the medical and mental health needs of the patient. Marcia has recruited quality volunteers as well as medical personnel who serve the community with compassion and respect. She brought the clinic into a new building, re-established relationships with funders and the community.”

Marcia feels this recognition and achievement is a Renewed Hope Health Clinic achievement. “This is an honor for all of us at the clinic—we all did it.”

Dr. Marcia Liepman
The second 2015 Spirit of Women award winner is oncologist Dr. Marcia Liepman, who was nominated by Bunny LaDuke and the women of the Just Ours Breast Cancer Support Group.

“Dr. Liepman always goes out of her way to help her patients on a regular basis,” said LaDuke. “Her commitment level is awe-inspiring. She puts in very long hours into her days of seeing and treating patients, often not leaving her medical office until 7 p.m. or later in the evening. She often calls on her patients in the hospital early in the mornings and late in the evenings. And she has been known to visit patients in their home, even in the rural parts of Allegan County. It has been amazing to observe her commitment and the amount of care and concern she has displayed for her patients.”

Dr. Liepman has been a physician for over 39 years. She was inspired to become a physician when she was six or seven years old after learning a friend had died from Leukemia.

She received her medical degree from the University of Michigan and completed her residency at the University of Michigan Hospitals. She practiced at University of Massachusetts Medical Center before coming to Kalamazoo with her husband and family. She currently works for the West Michigan Cancer Center (WMCC) providing care to patients in Southwest Michigan at WMCC’s Allegan Campus at Allegan General Hospital. She is board certified in Internal medicine, Hematology and Oncology.

Dr. Liepman is highly regarded by her peers, her staff and her patients. She shared the most satisfying part of her profession is “taking care of people and continuing to learn more things.” She is driven to find more answers for her patients.

Dawn Sherman
The third 2015 Spirit of Women Award winner is Dawn Sherman from Plainwell. She has spent countless days and nights dedicating time and emotion into bettering the communities surrounding Allegan, MI.

“Everyone else comes first when it comes to Dawn,” said Diane Barton, who nominated her. “She is an amazing woman.”

Her volunteer work began in 2000, after a successful career as an energy industry executive. Dawn returned to the area and began caring for her ill brother and felt the need to do more to fill her days. Dawn’s guardianship role for her brother led her to volunteer as a facility auditor for the Hope Network, as well as for the Kalamazoo Court as a probate advocate to help protect other wards of the court. She volunteered with Big Brother/Big Sister and mentored a youth for seven years and served as a Kalamazoo YWCA Sexual Assault Program Victim Advocate and as an adult mentor. She has also volunteered in the past for Sylvia’s Place as a board and committee member.

More recently, Dawn has continued to touch the community by volunteering for the Wings Home, Wings of Hope Hospice, Pink Saturday/Race for the Cure, Lake Doster Home Owners Association, Lake Doster Lake Association, as well as the Allegan County Legal Assistance Center. Along with volunteering her time with these various non-profits, some of her contributions include committee and board roles, grant writing and reporting, creating newsletters, providing website maintenance, authoring of procedures and policy, producing marketing and training material, photographing events, and fundraising contributions.

As if these activities were not enough, in her “free-time,” Dawn will perform acts of kindness for anyone who seems to be in need of her assistance. Often she can be found mowing her neighbors’ lawn, transporting community members to and from appointments, or busily creating one of her adorable teddy bears or beautiful pottery items for local fundraisers/auctions.

Dawn makes helping someone else her priority. According to Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” This holds true for Dawn, her habits go above and beyond what is expected.

“Spirit of Women Awards were designed to celebrate the accomplishments, achievements, and “spirit” of girls and women in our region,” said Jennifer Dentler, AGH Spirit of Women Coordinator. “It’s an awards program for the unsung heroine of everyday life, someone who has made a significant difference in the life of an individual or the community. We received many amazing nominations for each of the three categories and it was not an easy decision for our selection committee to make. We sure have a lot of exceptional ladies in the area.”

Allegan General Hospital is a community hospital that focuses on providing exceptional, compassionate and personalized healthcare to the community it serves. Allegan General provides a wide range of healthcare services, including bariatrics, surgery, sleep center, emergency, physical rehabilitation and mental health. For more information about the hospital and its Spirit of Women program, visit

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