Ministry aide enjoys helping in crises She sees her work as way 'to serve God'

Volunteer of the Week

June 20, 1993

Gloria Bair of Manchester runs the fuel and energy assistance and housing and shelter assistance programs of the Northeast Social Action Program, or NESAP, an ecumenical ministry sponsored by 22 churches that helps disadvantaged people in eastern Carroll County and northern Baltimore County.

In the first three months of 1993, the programs helped 62 families with housing assistance and 23 families with energy assistance. More than $8,000 went to needy families through these programs.

Organization's comments: Linda Geers, secretary for NESAP, said the words that describe Gloria Bair are "loving" and "caring," and those attributes come across to her clients.

Because NESAP is a Christian ministry, Ms. Geers said, "We can't be starchy and cold. We have to care for mankind. . . . Gloria just exceeds the limit for that."

Although some people feel uncomfortable with approaching a Christian ministry for help, Ms. Geers said, Ms. Bair puts them at ease.

"She'd make a very good social worker," Ms. Geers said.

"She knows how to make her judgment calls," she said. "She's a real good judge of character."

Volunteer's comments: "I had four calls so far this morning," said Ms. Bair at 9:15 a.m. Thursday. She said she receives 25 or 30 calls a week, including some from clients, and some from other agencies, such as Human Services Programs Inc. of Carroll County.

"One of the best feelings in the world is being able to help people in a time of crisis," she said, adding that she feels lucky to be able to serve in this way.

"I'm very fortunate," she said. "My husband has a good job, and I don't have to work."

Ms. Bair helps people resolve immediate crises, such as the threat of their electricity being cut off, or a family that is about to be evicted from its home.

Ms. Bair also makes referrals to other agencies that are able to offer other kinds of help.

She said, "We kind of see this as our way to pay back the community and serve God."

"We do it because it's a Christian ministry," she said. "We're trying to react as we think Christ would have us to do."

To do this sort of crisis-intervention work, she said, "You have to be relatively calm," and have some common sense.

"What I really like about NESAP," she said, is that it is people-oriented, not rule-bound. "There is a lot of flexibility," which allows her to rely on her gut feelings, she said.

Volunteer's background: Ms. Bair, 44, is married to Robert A. "Max" Bair, executive assistant to the county commissioners. They have a daughter, Stephanie, and a son, Greg.

Ms. Bair is a former teacher and a member of St. John's United Methodist Church. She helps with American Red Cross blood drives and serves on the local boards of the American Cancer Society and the Salvation Army. She also helps maintain the memorial garden at Manchester's Christmas Tree Park.

To nominate someone as Volunteer of the Week, call 751-7900 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Nominations may

be faxed to the office at 751-7916.

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