When Linda Gyimoty was looking to take the next step in her professional journey, she knew she wanted to work for an organization that had a strong mission in which she could believe.
Her interest was piqued when she learned that Interfaith Caregivers of Greater Mercer County, an all-volunteer agency whose members care for homebound seniors and adults with disabilities in Mercer County, was searching for a new executive director. She interviewed for the position and was hired.
“It didn’t take me long to realize there was something very special here,” said Gyimoty, who began her position in February, succeeding former executive director Jane Latini. “I found [here] a growing organization, determined to do as much as possible for everyone who sought our help, a warm loving team and a board eager to help a new leader have all the support she would need as she learned about the community and the systems in which we operate. I also found a vibrant interfaith community that served as full partners and allies with our mission -- to improve the quality of life for our region’s elderly and disabled.”
Gyimoty, a resident of Ocean County for 20 years who attends St. Barnabas Parish, Bayville, brings a wealth of experience to the organization whose history dates to 1994. The organization was initially titled Interfaith Caregivers of Trenton until 2011, when it changed its name to Interfaith Caregivers of Greater Mercer County to more accurately reflect its expanded geographic reach. In all, Interfaith Caregivers of Greater Mercer County is composed of a coalition of nearly 30 faith communities, 15 of which are Catholic.
Holding a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Rowan University (then Glassboro State College) and a master’s degree in counseling psychology from Monmouth University, West Long Branch, Gyimoty said her passion for social work goes back to her childhood and teenage years when she would help her very community-oriented mother, “who introduced me to the power of volunteering and making a difference.”
She remained on the social work track in college as an assistant at a local children’s shelter that housed runaway and abused teenagers. Little did she know that her college work experience would help to “kick start a career working in children and family services that would span more than 30 years.” Other career highlights included becoming executive director of Harbor House, Toms River, in 1997, an organization that provides prevention, treatment and housing services for children. She served in Harbor House for 12 years, from 1997 to 2009, when she decided to pursue a master’s degree. In 2011, she was named executive director of United Way of Ocean County, where she helped raise funds for education, income stability and health.
“It was in this grant-making role that I had the chance to work with a number of senior service and caregiver organizations and began to recognize the critical needs facing our elderly,” she said.
In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy in October 2012, Gyimoty said the focus of United Way’s work shifted. Noting that more than 40,000 primary homes were damaged, she said the agency initially provided relief work by supplying residents with basic necessities.
“It quickly became clear that we would need much more than these early relief efforts,” she said.
Now as she settles into her new post as executive director of Interfaith Caregivers of Greater Mercer County, Gyimoty is excited about the scope of services the organization provides. She noted that there is the main program, Neighbors Helping Neighbors, which has professionally screened and trained volunteer caregivers providing non-medical, free of charge support services to help homebound seniors and adults with disabilities such as: shopping and errands, transportation to appointments, indoor/outdoor chores, minor household repairs and telephone reassurance.
Then there is Neighbors Helping Neighbors Stay Healthy, which provides education to seniors to help them learn about common health and social issues, and also, Project Healthy Bones, which is a free, 24-week health education and exercise program for those with or at risk for osteoporosis. Another offering ICGMC introduced in 2015 is the Stress Busting Program for Family Caregivers who are dealing with the stress of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
“The mission of Interfaith Caregivers of Greater Mercer County is to promote the independence, dignity and wellness of homebound elderly and individuals with disabilities by matching them with caring, supportive volunteers who assist with the tasks of everyday life,” Gyimoty said.
Acknowledging the hard work being accomplished, she said, volunteers can mean the world to their clients. “In many cases, they share their lives and their families with their care receiver and help them to know that despite the challenges they face, they are not alone.”