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Ministry of Concern has been busy during pandemic

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 29 June 2020 at 8:57 am

With major fundraiser cancelled GOMOC uses raffles to generate revenue

Provided photo: Captain Paul Nau of Lake Runner Charters and first mate Hunter Westcott drew the winning ticket for a half-day fishing charter to benefit Genesee-Orleans Ministry of Concern. The trip, donated by Nau, would have been auctioned off at GOMOC’s annual gala, which had to be canceled because of the pandemic.

ALBION – With the recent pandemic, Genesee-Orleans Ministry of Concern has had to change its approach to fundraising, according to director Nyla Gaylord.

Faced with the need for a new truck for their Furniture Program and having to cancel their gala fundraiser in April, Gaylord and her fundraising committee decided to raffle off some of the major items donated for the event which has been rescheduled for October.

This week at Lure’s Restaurant in Bald Eagle Marina, the winning ticket was drawn for a half day fishing charter with Captain Paul Nau from Lake Runner Charters, who donated the trip for a second year in a row.

The winner was Charlie Sheets of Clarendon. He will be joined by three of his friends on the fishing trip.

Gaylord was delighted with the results of the raffle,  saying they made more selling raffle tickets than they would have made at a live auction during our event.

“We are grateful to Captain Nau for his donation and willingness to donate another charter for our fundraiser,” she said.

A committee member paid for printing the raffle tickets.

GOMOC plans to use the profits from the raffle, which totaled $2,000, toward the purchase of a much-needed truck for their furniture program.

GOMOC has also decided to auction off additional donated items on their Facebook page during the summer. These include a drone, a bicycle and assorted gift baskets.

Meanwhile, plans are going forward for the gala event on Oct. 17, featuring entertainer Jimmy Mazz. Because it is Sweetest Day, Mazz has changed his program to focus on love songs, including a medley of songs paying tribute to love, charity and the celebration of goodwill.

“After all, this is what the Ministry of Concern is all about,” Gaylord said.

During the “pause” GOMOC, known as the “Agency of Last Resort,” continued to maintain regular hours of operation, even with reduced staff, Gaylord said.

GOMOC helps people overcome difficult circumstances when no other help is available. They assist with personal care items, bedding, prescription co-pays, preventing utility shut-off and limited assistance with emergency shelter. The Furniture Program picks up gently used donated furniture and delivers it free of charge to families in need.

Their Just Friends Program teaches positive values and helps youth develop the skills to succeed in life and work.

Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the agency has expanded its services and received emergency funding from a variety of sources. With funding from the Western New York Covid-19 Community Response Fund, GOMOC has been able to assist people impacted by layoff or reduction in hours, by helping them maintain their car insurance and/or assisting with car payments.

“This service is not offered anywhere else in the community,” Gaylord said. “Public transportation in Genesee and Orleans counties is limited, and keeping a car on the road is critical for people working or returning to work. Many low-income workers with limited credit options have high car payments, some with interest as high as 24.5%. These are people who work hard, but cannot afford a big unplanned expense. Faced with reduced work hours, job loss or temporary unemployment, many are forced to make tough choices on how to spend reduced funds. If we can help them by making a monthly car payment or insurance payment, it may be enough to help them overcome the current crisis.”

Gaylord said they have found many people who did not know they were eligible for Unemployment Insurance or public benefits, such as SNA:/Food Stamps or HEAP. GOMOC has been able to help them by providing them with information and assistance to assess these resources.

Along with other organizations, GOMOC brokers FEMA and Salvation Army funds to help prevent shutoff of water, heat and electricity.

Gaylord also expressed how touched she was by the generosity of people in the community and their long-time donors and supporters.

“Some of the local churches, even though they are not meeting in person, are still active in their ministry and support of Ministry of Concern,” she said.

Last year, Gaylord said 3,782 people benefitted from services of GOMOC. This was an increase of 874 (or 30%) over the previous year.

“We have no idea how the demand for our services will change as our community and nation respond to the ever-changing challenges of dealing with the pandemic,” she said. “What I do know is that our community and out-of-area donors help us to help our neighbors through tough times – and for that we are grateful.”

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