GOMOC gala celebrates ‘agency of last resort’

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 8 May 2023 at 8:55 pm

Photo by Ginny Kropf: Bob Harker, director of Genesee-Orleans Ministry of Concern, addresses the crowd at Saturday night’s gala at Elba Fire Hall.

ELBA – More than 100 supporters attended the Genesee-Orleans Ministry of Concern’s first gala since Covid on Saturday night at the Elba Firemen’s Recreation Hall.

The evening began with a prayer by board president Sister Dolores O’Dowd, who also paid tribute to Mary Grace DeMarse, a long-time board member who died in December. Many donations to the basket raffle for the evening were made in memory of DeMarse, who loved the annual fundraising event and would keep her eyes open for basket items all year round.

GOMOC’s director Bob Harker welcomed guests and thanked those attending for their support.

“Ministry of Concern doesn’t rely on tax dollars,” he said. “We rely on you. We are totally grant and donation supported. We have to do fundraising like this to pay the bills or we couldn’t do what we do for those in need. That’s why events like this are so important.”

He said they were thrilled to be able to have the first gala in three years and thanked Marie Gabalski for helping to organize the event.

Sue Metzo of Medina attended with a table of MAAC volunteers. She said they all enjoyed comedian Moody McCarthy.

“He was very interesting and did down-to-earth stuff,” Metzo said.

She said MAAC supports the Ministry of Concern, and they all work together. For example, when Ministry of Concern has a family who needs pots and pans, their volunteer will contact the MAAC Thrift Depot and ask if they have any.

“We do great things to help each other in Orleans County,” Metzo said.

Harker added he was very grateful to the people who supported the gala and GOMOC this year.

“It frees us to help people in a real way,” he said.

The evening also included a basket raffle, live auction, 50/50 drawing and dinner catered by Chap’s Elba Diner.

The Ministry of Concern is known as “The agency of last resort,” for having the ability to help people in need in various ways.

In addition to Sister O’Dowd, the agency’s board includes honorary director, John J. LaFalce; vice president, Bruce Schmidt; secretary, Teresa Gaylard; treasurer, Karen Kinter; and Jane Balbick, Jack Burris, Jennifer Metz, Phil Pies, Karen Tennity and the Rev. Colleen O’Connor.

Besides Harker, staff are office manager, Carol Whalin; advocate/furniture program coordinator, Lisa Taylor-Rowland; furniture program driver, Fran Gaylord; and furniture program assistant, Charlie Downey.