Gala at Batavia Downs benefits Ministry of Concern

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 3 June 2024 at 10:24 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

BATAVIA – Jami Allport, executive director of the Genesee-Orleans Ministry of Concern, speaks to about 130 people on Saturday night during a black tie gala for “The Agency of Last Resort.”

The Ministry of Concern started a gala benefit in 2019 to raise funds for the agency and expand its base of supporters.

The Ministry of Concern has expanded its services for people in need, including reaching out to those who are homeless or in danger of becoming homeless.

GOMOC in late March moved into its new offices in the First Presbyterian Church of Albion after 15 years at the Albion Visitor’s Center on the third floor at 121 North Main St.

The Buffalo party band, Captain Tom and the Hooligans, provided high-energy music for the evening. Trevor Jennings, an Albion, is drummer for the band that plays polka, Celtic folk, folk rock and other genres.

These interns, Micky Stowell (left) and Abigail Kinkaid, pull the tickets and announce the winners for about 25 items and baskets up for auction. Jami Allport and her husband Geno are at right.

Chris Forrester was one of the keynote speakers at the event.

One of the keynote speakers during the gala, Chris Forrester, shared how GOMOC was critical in getting her through a rough patch.

“They helped hold me together,” Forrester said, noting former director Nyla Gaylord and board member Sister Delores O’Dowd. “They didn’t judge me.”

Forrester said she was living by the canal bank when GOMOC helped her secure housing, set goals and get back on track.

She is now an active volunteer with GOMOC, and makes it a personal mission to help the local homeless population.

She will drive at night looking for people who are homeless, especially during the cold weather months, and will try to connect them to the warming center or other housing.

Jami Allport, the executive director, said GOMOC assists people in unexpected emergencies, and helps people in other crises, including mental health, domestic violence and addiction.

“We are here to fight alongside people,” Allport said. “Remember, they are people.”