Making a Difference at GEDCO – Third time’s a charm!
After a career as a social worker, and more recently, as a parent homeschooling her two children, Martha Yalov joined the ranks of Baltimore’s Ignatian Volunteers in the fall of 2014. She came into the experience open to any placement that could use her skills. In the fall of 2016, after two other volunteer placements, she accepted a role at GEDCO CARES and has been there, growing to love this placement, ever since.
She started working there once a week and has transitioned to twice a week, but the schedule is flexible. Her son is in the Coast Guard, so when his schedule permits, she and her husband often travel to see him. She accesses her GEDCO email when she’s on the road. Recently, she took on the role of working with her agency supervisor to include lobbying for laws to fight utility scams that take advantage of the poor and elderly in the GEDCO CARES neighborhood. “We began noticing clients being taken in by unscrupulous direct-sales agents, offering immediate gift cards & promising lower bills, but putting them on high-rate plans. I was able to use my social work advocacy training to access networks that led to a chance to testify in Annapolis with and on behalf of our clients for a bill to address this problem.” She loves being able to interact one-on-one and hear the stories of community neighbors, but also that the work has grown into an effort to address structural problems that add to the burden and discrimination the clients’ face.
Martha was attracted to IVC by the spiritual foundation and the idea of joining a community of people focused on service and social justice. She has taken full advantage of IVC’s offerings to experience Ignatian Spirituality. She recently completed the nine month Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life, and will be attending the Christian Life Community National Assembly this July in Pittsburgh. “The spiritual component of IVC has become an essential part of my life, not only as a volunteer, but as a Christian dedicated to living Christ’s message of compassion and service. The community is wonderful and I treasure the relationships I have developed through IVC. I encourage anyone who is looking for a spiritual community dedicated to service to consider joining our IVC family. I tell everyone I know about it!” Thank you, Martha, for your commitment and dedication!
ABOUT GEDCO CARES…
GEDCO CARES serves families and individuals in crisis by connecting residents of the Govans community with resources that enable movement towards self-sufficiency.
As part of GEDCO (the Govans Ecumenical Development Corporation), the CARES program was started in 1993 by volunteers from local faith communities. GEDCO CARES serves residents of the Govans community in north Baltimore city in three ways: a food pantry that allows clients to choose foods they prefer; emergency financial assistance to help clients avoid eviction and utility shut-offs, and with prescription needs; and CARES Career Connection which provides support for individuals seeking jobs. CARES paid staff consists of 1.5 employees so it relies on volunteers and donations from faith communities, schools, businesses, government agencies, and community at large.
In FY19, CARES responded to 3,525 requests for food and provided financial assistance to 532 households. On average, CARES supports 70 households a week with food assistance; 10 with financial assistance. The Career Connection program helped find 153 jobs for program participants. Rachael Neill, CARES Director of Community Services, has been with GEDCO 17 years, 13 as an employee. An attorney by training, she has always cared about the problem of poverty, especially in our affluent society. She shares this story of how Ignatian Volunteer Martha Yalov went the extra mile to help a client: “Helen, a senior citizen working full time, came for assistance with her gas and electric bill. Her furnace was broken and she was relying on space heaters. We helped pay her bill, but also learned her roof was in bad shape. She was using large tubs to collect rainwater every time it stormed, but she had not been able to get her homeowners’ insurance to pay for repairs. Martha helped her apply to the city’s LIGHT program to get a new furnace, and worked with her insurance company to get them to pay for roof repairs. It took months to get it all done, and without Martha’s persistent attention, it probably would not have been resolved.” IVC has been a proud partner of GEDCO for 10 years, and thank them for their great work on behalf of the citizens of our city.
For more information on their outreach, go to https:// gedco.org/what-we-do/ community-services/