Ministry of Concern praised for loving their neighbors for 50 years
HOLLEY – An agency that has served residents in need for 50 years was praised for providing critical assistance.
The Genesee Orleans Ministry of Concern held a celebration on Saturday for the agency’s half century of service.
John LaFalce, a retired congressman, said the agency has been following one of the great commands of Jesus by loving their neighbor, by providing shelter, clothing and food.
“You are sharing love for your neighbors in Genesee and Orleans counties when you provide for those in need,” LaFalce said during the celebration on Saturday at Hickory Ridge Golf Course. LaFalce served in Congress for 28 years until 2003.
The Ministry of Concern grew out of what was initially a grassroots effort of local churches that wanted to assist farmworkers and poor residents. The Ministry of Concern now serves about 2,000 people annually in Orleans County, helping with personal care items, prescription co-pays, emergency shelter and some utility bills.
Lynne Johnson, chairwoman of the Orleans County Legislature, also has served as a bookkeeper for the Ministry of Concern for about 15 years. She said the agency is a “best-kept secret” in the county. She said the Ministry of Concern could have assisted a mother and son from Kendall who died last week from apparent carbon monoxide poisoning after their electricity was shut off. They then used a generator to try to provide power for the house.
“We need to get the word out,” Johnson told about 200 people at the banquet on Saturday. “This is what the organization stands for: It’s meeting the needs that no one else could.”
She urged residents to reach out to the Ministry of Concern if they are in a crisis, and concerned about losing power or facing other emergencies.
“That’s why we’re here gathered tonight so there’s not another death,” Johnson said.
The agency also runs a used furniture and appliance program, collecting items and delivering them to people in need.
The Ministry of Concern has a youth mentoring program, Just Friends E-3 Team, that matches youth mentors (coaches) to children in need of positive adult connections.
Nyla Gaylord serves as executive director of the agency. She said many of the agency’s clients are people who work hard, but they don’t make enough money to pay all of their bills, or they can’t afford an big unplanned expense, such as a car breakdown.
The Ministry can provide some financial assistance or advocate for residents for a reasonable payment plan, Gaylord said.
Gaylord and Jacki Mowers-Sciarabba, a full-time client advocate at the Ministry of Concern, are well connected in the community, working with other non-profits and government agencies to assist people in crisis. The job can be stressful and takes a lot of problem-solving, Gaylord said.
“It’s hard to believe the number of so many people who have worked so hard for so many years to provide services to people in need,” Gaylord said.