Saturday, November 29, 2014


Megan Sirko Joins Enews

Hello everyone! My name is Megan Sirko and I have been working alongside Kristti Morales and Steve Rossi to write articles for Aliquippa Impact’s Enews. I wanted to take a moment to tell you a bit about myself.

I learned about Aliquippa Impact from my advisor at Geneva College. Steve had contacted him, looking for someone who would like to help write articles for the newsletter. My advisor knew I was looking for some more writing experience so he connected me with Steve Rossi.

I was excited about this opportunity not only because I enjoy writing, but also because Aliquippa is a large part of my background. My great grandfather, grandfather, and my own father all worked in Aliquippa’s steel mills. My dad worked at J&L until it closed. We lived in Aliquippa until I was 15 and then we moved to Hopewell Township. I still have fond memories of playing basketball outside Aliquippa’s elementary school with my brother and friend. When we were tired of playing, we would grab a polar pop at Circle K or walk down to the Dollar Tree for a snack. I also remember watching the Greek Festival from my porch.

I am currently a Junior at Geneva College. When I first came to Geneva, I wasn’t sure what field I wanted to go into. There are so many interesting jobs out there! I spent some time as a Human Service major and tested out some media courses. After some deliberation, I finally decided that I wanted to write so I switched my major to Communications with a concentration in Writing. Finally, I think I got it right this time! How do I know this? After some thought, I came to the conclusion that I am a sucker for a good story. I love hearing about someone’s life and writing about it.

For example, last summer I worked at a small Christian camp in Erie as their marketing assistant. A large part of my job was taking photos and putting together slideshows. This was a lot of fun, but it’s not the part of the job that stuck out to me the most. My favorite part - you guessed it- had to do with storytelling. At the end of every week, before the kids left for home, I got to interview some of them. They told me what amazed them about camp and what they learned from their counselors and camp directors. It was interesting to hear about their experiences.

Now that you know some of my own story, I would like to thank everyone I’ve had the opportunity to speak with so far. I really appreciate the time and insight you’ve given me. It’s amazing to hear how ministries such as Aliquippa Impact have changed so many people’s lives. I look forward to talking with more members from the community!


Catching up with Keith

Keith Olden, a recent graduate from Aliquippa High School, was part of both Aliquippa Impact’s day camp and cohort group. One of his favorite memories from being a part of the cohort group was the prayer walks that he participated in. One walk in particular stands out to him. “This one time on a prayer walk, whenever we stopped to pray for this one lady, we all stuck our hands out and we didn’t notice when we stuck our hands on her to pray for her, but our hands were in the pattern of a cross. It just happened to be like that whenever we were praying.”

For Keith, being involved with AI’s programs not only kept him busy and out of trouble, but it also opened his eyes to how God is working in his life. He says, “God can change your life in an instant.”

Currently, Keith is a student at PTI where he is studying Culinary Arts. He hopes to work at a restaurant and eventually open his own grill in Pittsburgh. Knowing that prayer is a powerful thing, Keith hopes that we will pray he does well in school.


Listening and Adjusting to the Needs of the Community

Paul and Brandie Pupi met Joel Repic, Founder of Aliquippa Impact, when Joel spoke at First Presbyterian Church of Beaver. Paul was interested in mentoring and began mentoring a child. As Paul mentored over the years, he learned more about AI and their mission. Paul and Brandie have had a passion and a heart for the city of Aliquippa for some time. While at a church plant in Beaver Falls doing urban ministry, they realized their call towards Aliquippa specifically. The Pupis asked Joel and Chelsea Repic if there was anything they could do to minister in Aliquippa and Joel asked them to lead Forgotten Corners.

Forgotten Corners is a ministry for people who have a heart for the city of Aliquippa and decide to move into the city and live out a gospel-centered life for and with the community. Most of these people have come to Aliquippa through working with Aliquippa Impact as either a summer or year round staff member and being so impacted that they decide to move to the city and be the change. This is a great reflection on how AI has not only impacted the youth of the city, but the staff who move here to do full time ministry as well. When people move to Aliquippa, a lot of their heart issues come out and they need someone to walk with them. Forgotten Corners fills that need by helping them plug in, get acclimated to the area, and grow through a community that walks closely with them.

Brandie Pupi believes in Aliquippa Impact because, “It is effective, helping youth and giving hope. They successfully implement their vision,” she says. Brandie sees the impact AI is making on the youth, giving them hope. She is involved in the Agricultural segment of City Camp, the summer day camp program), every year. The kids come to her house every Thursday morning during the summer program. “Kids are being fed with truth and life skills as they grow and they have a safe place to be,” she says. Brandie values that “AI is a Christian organization but through the years they can see the needs in the community and help fulfill those needs through a program or something else to help. They are always willing to listen to the community and adjust to the community’s needs.”


The Gazaway’s Support Aliquippa Impact

Support for Aliquippa is not restricted to just Pennsylvania. People across the country are excited about Aliquippa Impact’s mission. Diane Gazaway and her family, from Georgia, have supported Aliquippa Impact financially since 2009.

The Gazaway’s first learned about Aliquippa Impact through their daughter, Kate, a friend of Founder, Joel Repic. Kate taught a photography class at AI’s summer camp and now operates her own non-profit organization, Picture Change. Diane and the rest of the family were able to meet Joel Repic and Executive Director, Steve Rossi a few years ago when they visited Toccoa Falls College in Georgia. Hearing about their work with Aliquippa’s youth, reassured them that they were supporting a worthy cause.

The Gazaways support AI because the ministry is truly committed to kids and their families. Diane says, “It’s about taking the time to really get to know the people that they are ministering to and that really comes from sincerely caring about them, that they’re going to be there for them.”


The Power of Mentoring Relationships

Nick Marlatt, pastor of Ohio United Presbyterian Church, learned of Aliquippa Impact through the church’s missions and evangelism committee chairwoman, Sallie Alviani. Sallie is a mentor through Aliquippa Impact and Ohio UP has supported AI monthly since 2009. Ohio UP is a church of people who are trying to follow Jesus Christ in proclaiming and spreading the Good News to others in love and the spirit of Christ. “We want to live the gospel in the community in which we are placed. That is one of the draws to Aliquippa Impact. It is a way to minister to the community that we are in.” “AI is a chance for people to be involved in the lives of kids in the community and to be involved as Christian mentors,” says Nick. “It is a way for people in the church to do mission on a regular basis, to invest in the life of the community, and for the church to be salt and light in the community and world around it in a very tangible way. It is a wonderful opportunity to get people doing ministry outside the doors of the church. It broadens the understanding of what doing ministry is - that it is not just a program in church but a way of living your life everyday in the community in which you are placed.”

Nick believes in Aliquippa Impact as he states, “Personally, I feel that men in our culture are failing to be positive mentors and role models on a day to day basis in the lives of our kids. When I was growing up, I always wanted a mentor presence in my life. I want to give back because I know the power of some deep mentoring relationships. Scripturally, faith is passed on from generation to generation from these types of relationships. If I can be a witness to the Gospel in the life of kids it is a much more effective evangelism tool than a big rally or once a year things.” Nick lives what he believes and is a school-based mentor through AI at Aliquippa Elementary School.

Nick values how Aliquippa Impact has a summer program and a school-based program. “Kids aren’t dropped. There is always involvement in the lives of the kids.” He also likes how AI’s programs start at a young age to be positive Christian influences in the lives of kids early on.

Nick sees the effect AI has on the kids of the community at the school. “I see it in the kids who are in the mentor room saying, ‘I wish I had a mentor.’” AI has been around enough to where kids are spreading the word themselves and at a point where kids are desiring it [mentoring] and seeking it out themselves.”


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