Staff Spotlight | Holly Yakoumakis
Digital Literacy Coordinator & Asst. Food Pantry Manager
Photo: Holly working with a client in the Marillac Computer Lab.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from?
I'm from Alsip, Illinois - about 15-25 minutes south of Chicago.
What would the title of your autobiography be?
The title wouldn't be words. Just emoji. Reader's choice as to which ones.
How did you get into your field of work?
Well, pre-pandemic, I was the digital literacy coordinator at the Foglia Center. Which is a fancy way of saying that I taught adults in the community how to use computers and other digital devices. I taught classes and I had open lab time. In the afternoon, I had kids from the Hope Junior program in the lab! I've done that since September of 2015. Now, in pandemic times, I have been in the Food Pantry. When the shutdown happened, Kathleen Callahan and I wanted to continue offering food pantry services while ensuring the safety and dignity of our clients. We reconfigured the space, created a process for pre-packing food, changed how we did client intake, and, with the hard work of Colleen Mulcrone, trained a new set of volunteers. We also worked with Sister Kathy and Michael Hargrove to expand our delivery service for the homebound to include more seniors and community members with disabilities. I also tried to find safe ways to continue to help clients who needed access to information about unemployment, voting, receiving the stimulus check, how to find diapers and formula for infants, and other issues that cropped up and are important to people.
Which MSV core value do you think is most important and why?
Empowerment. It's tragic if anyone lives our lives without feeling empowered. Human beings are amazing and every single person who comes to Marillac has incredible potential. They have the power to run with that potential. You got this!
Please tell us about a time you embodied the core value you chose.
I think about empowerment every day. Usually when a (kid or adult) lab participant or food pantry volunteer shoos me away because they no longer need by help to complete a task. They might have struggled at first, but now they know how to do it. I am very happy to make myself obsolete. Eventually, these empowered people all find better ways of doing things than I could ever have imagined.
Photo: Hope Jr. participant sports a personalized jersey gifted to Holly by the Chicago Blackhawks. The local NHL team recently recognized community leaders doing important work in Chicago and Holly was selected.
What is your favorite MSV memory or what are you most looking forward to about working at MSV?
You know, I have so many amazing, fun, surprising, and sometimes life-changing conversations with people here. Those are my favorite memories. Talking to and learning from my computer lab participants, the food pantry participants, our volunteers, the kids, and the staff from every single department. I'm lucky in that I feel like I’ve gotten to work with almost everybody in some way. I wish you all could, too. It's pretty nice. This page would get so long if I started listing all the people in this place who do my heart good.
What do you like to do for fun?
What does fun even mean these days! I'm obsessed with my baby nephews who live in Ohio with their parents. Please ask me if you want to see pictures. I will talk about them all day and not pause for breath. They don’t know words yet, but the older one jabbers at me over the phone. Other than that I like to eat food with my loved ones, watch movies, listen to music and podcasts, read books, and just be somewhere outside and scenic.
What is one thing everyone should know about MSV?
Around here, it all starts with how we treat each other. The best of us show up for one another. They show up for the participants. They want to see everybody thrive. I am really proud to work with individuals that care so deeply about the people around them.
Marillac St. Vincent's East Garfield Park Computer Lab is currently closed to the public for safety reasons, but you can learn more about our Community Outreach Services programs here.