Four Familiar Faces
Four familiar faces. Almost 120 years of combined service to Aunt Martha’s. They’ve seen the changes. They’ve heard the stories. This week, they describe their experience in their own words.
Franca Liburdi (36 years)
Gary Bevills (36* years)
Iris Williams (28 years)
Mia Collins (18 years)
Oh, and there’s at least one story – which may or may not involve a Billboard Top 10 song from 1979 – that we can’t share just yet.
Senior Vice President of Health Operations
Franca Liburdi is Aunt Martha’s Senior Vice President of Health Operations. She joined the agency in 1986.
Still a Place to Go
Aunt Martha’s is a place where people can come to and get help for what they need. But also, it’s an organization that – if we can’t do it – we’re going to help you find a place that can get you the help you need.
It’s absolutely amazing to be involved in an organization that can help people receive health care, receive counseling services, receive or even help finding a job or finding other resources to be able to help an individual regardless of where they come from, what they are, who they are, that we are able to connect them to other services.
Senior Vice President of Operations
Gary Bevills came to Aunt Martha’s in 1986 as a 14-year old volunteer. Today, as a Senior Vice President of Operations, he is responsible for multiple segments of Aunt Martha’s health care services, including dental and psychiatry.
“Aunt Martha’s has a Soul”
I started as a 14 year old volunteer with a commitment to wanting to do something. And Aunt Martha’s was the space that made that possibility happen.
Aunt Martha’s has a soul. So even though the the landscape has changed, that soul of patient centered meeting people where they are has not been lost. [There’s] still that passion and that commitment. It just looks a little different now. We’re we’re impacting the lives of communities deeper now than we ever would, or could have 20 years ago, ten years ago.
A Place to Grow and Develop
I look at my personal experience, and Aunt Martha’s was a family, it was a connection. It was a place to grow and develop as a young person and then as a professional.
A story I like to tell is about a medical assistant [at an Aunt Martha’s clinic] 15 years ago. She’s now a licensed clinical social worker. She left the organization after a few years, got her graduate degree and then came back as a provider. You see that over and over again [at Aunt Martha’s].
It’s the soul of making a difference that makes people come back.
Vice President, Child Welfare Services of Cook County
Iris Williams is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Vice President of Aunt Martha’s Child Welfare Services in Cook County. She joined the agency in 1995 – 28 years ago.
Coming to Aunt Martha’s Right out of College
It’s like it’s my work family. I basically grew up as a young adult. I came to Aunt Martha’s right out of college, and I have been there ever since.
I’ve seen a lot of changes for the better. And I just love what I do.
Williams oversees Child Welfare Services program, which visits the homes of families at risk of DCFS involvement to understand and help meet their needs, from basic necessities like food and shelter, to social supports, to health care and more.
“The best thing you can do”
Being able to help people gives me joy. I am a social worker, a licensed social worker. And this is my life. This is what I’m made of. And so helping people is just it’s just exciting. It’s just exciting when you can see that someone has an issue where you go in and you provide assistance and it leaves their family in a better place. I mean, that’s the best thing you can do being a social worker.
Vice President, DCFS Child Wellness Services
Mia Collins is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and is Aunt Martha’s Vice President of DCFS Child Welfare Services. She has been with Aunt Martha’s for close to 19 years.
“It’s a Passion”
It’s very rewarding. It’s a passion. Social services is your life’s work. It is not something that you go on to as a job. It’s really an extension of yourself. I’m a licensed clinical social worker. I believe in helping communities. They help individuals and families. And so it’s been ingrained in me since childhood to help others. And this is just an extension of who I am.
It’s a big deal to be connected to an organization that has a reach to communities throughout the state of Illinois. That’s very impactful. There’s a lot of organizations that haven’t made it past five years. We’ve been here 50 years and Our trajectory has only grown.
Breaking the Cycle of Abuse and Neglect
I have a few young people who we served [at Aunt Martha’s] who still reach out to me. They’re in their 30s now, and they reach out to tell me how how they’re doing, how they’re working, how they’re in school, and how the conversations we had in the past still resonate with them.
It feels good to know that I helped plant the seed and it has grown and branched off. And now they have children of their own. They weren’t victims of their circumstances (from their family of origin), but they are actually resilient, know their strength and they broke the cycle. And that’s important.