Monday, September 01, 2014

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Integrative and Systematic Approach of Walking with Youth Throughout Their Lives

House of Prayer Evangelical Lutheran Church partners with Aliquippa Impact financially and as a like-minded missional body called to love and serve Aliquippa.Over the last four years, House of Prayer has done visioning and self-analysis, and is rediscovering itself. Mike Sourwine, pastor of House of Prayer, says, “We are a church that worships in a particular way. We are a church about outreach.” House of Prayer has many ministries that reach out to the community, such as Manna (which provides a free meal to the community once a week), a food pantry, a clothing cupboard, a daycare, and Meals on Wheels. Pastor Sourwine states, “The inspiration comes from the yearning of the people who come to church regularly.They want to be more outreach oriented, and we give opportunities.It is the identity of the people who come here.”

Mike met Executive Director, Steve Rossi, at a barbecue with mutual friends.Mike and Steve talked during the barbecue and it was there that Mike first heard about Aliquippa Impact. Currently, Mike and Steve talk monthly to maintain an awareness of what is going on in the community.House of Prayer supports/partners with Aliquippa Impact because “It is what God calls us to do.There is no need for us to do what Aliquippa Impact is doing.It is such a beautiful ministry.AI is seen very well in our community” says Pastor Sourwine.

Pastor Sourwine most appreciates AI’s integrative and systematic approach to dealing with youth and families by trying to help kids change their whole lives from when they are little to when they grow up.According to Sourwine, AI is “an organization that walks with them throughout their lives.A fantastic model that is so needed here in Aliquippa.”

 

Someone by Your Side

Breanna Baker, a senior at Central Valley High School, grew up in Aliquippa and attended Crestmont Alliance Church, where Joel Repic co-pastors.Joel, who is also the founder of Aliquippa Impact, suggested to Breanna to be involved in AI’s mentoring program.She has had a one-to-one mentor for the last four years.They hang out at her mentor’s house, have bonfires, and go bowling, shopping, and to fairs.

“Being a part of Aliquippa Impact affected me in a good way, helping me know that people are there caring for you.I think I would be a little bit different if I didn’t come into contact with AI.It is a good thing to have in your life and someone by your side,” says Breanna.

Recently, Breanna had the opportunity to go on a week-long mission trip to the Dominican Republic, in which her mentor helped her to raise the funds needed.Breanna says the DR trip, “Opened my eyes more than before.Going down there showed me a lot about different cultures.Even though it is a different culture, we have the same God.He is the same there as He is here.”She is looking forward to continuing to serving God here in her hometown as she did in the Dominican Republic.

When asked what advice she would give to someone her age about Aliquippa Impact, she states, “People my age should do it [get involved].It is a good experience, especially if you are not really sure about your faith.It is good to have someone beside you to ask questions.With our society nowadays a lot of things can drag you away from it.”

   

AI Partners with Family Guidance

Family Guidance (originally called Youth Guidance, Inc.) was started in 1964 by a man who dared to care.  After visiting Pittsburgh Juvenile Court and seeing kids whose lives were going nowhere, Rev. Dr. James Leckie decided to meet with Judge Maurice Cohill to see what he could do. Cohill placed 28 repeat offenders in his care. Rev. Leckie and some of his friends mentored these young men and because of the love shown to them, none of them returned to jail. Today, Leckie’s efforts to bring hope and a future to vulnerable kids and families in the Pittsburgh area continues through Family Guidance.

Eight years ago Aliquippa Impact started a partnership with Family Guidance who guided them in how to run a mentoring program. Now Family Guidance screens and performs background checks on AI’s mentors, supervises child-mentor matches, and trains mentors.

Kathy Huffner, the Senior Mentoring Supervisor at Family Guidance, started working there 8 years ago. She’s witnessed the lives of many people change over the years because of AI’s ministry. She reflects, “I've seen the way the staff depends wholeheartedly on God for direction and results. There is no other way these individuals could have stayed the course with so much coming against them if they weren't convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that they were being faithful to a clear calling from God and every day chose to be obedient. They are amazing people and are an inspiration.”

   

Aliquippa Impact: Not a Flash in the Pan

Dan Shust was born in Aliquippa and lived there for over 29 years of his life. In August 2004 he moved to Toccoa, Georgia. He spent 31 years working in sales and marketing with American Airlines and when he moved to Georgia he worked 9 years in Financial Services at Toccoa Falls College. Dan has been married for 41 years and has 2 sons and 5 grandsons.

Dan learned about Aliquippa Impact from its founder Joel Repic, whom he has known since Joel was 9 years old. Since learning about AI, Shust has supported the ministry financially and through prayer. Shust says, “I believe in Joel's vision and passion for those in Aliquippa that need to know God.” He describes AI’s work in the city as long-term, focused, organized, and committed. Aliquippa Impact loves people by showing them that they have value and that through Christ there is hope.

He believes the lives of youth have been changed because AI submits to the leading of the Holy Spirit. “Young lives have been transformed by Christ as He has loved both young and old through Joel, Steve [Executive Director] and all those committed to the ministry of AI. AI is not a ‘flash in the pan’, here for the summer then gone. It is a ministry that is committed to Aliquippa by maintaining a day to day presence.”

   

Change Only Comes Through Relationship

Gao Foua Jordan has a deep connection to Aliquippa Impact. She was introduced to Aliquippa Impact through her husband, John Jordan, when they were dating. John had been a summer staff previously and felt shaped by his experience. Gao Foua and John applied for many jobs in different cities and both received job offers in Aliquippa a few weeks before they were married. Although their jobs were not with AI, they decided to move to Aliquippa to become a part of what Aliquippa Impact was doing in the community and to share community with Joel Repic, Founder of AI, and his wife Chelsea. Gao Foua was able to work as summer staff her first summer living in Aliquippa in 2008.

Gao Foua began working for AI in 2010 and is currently the Mentor Program Assistant. In this role, she interviews mentors, enrolls students in the mentoring program, matches mentors and mentees according to their interests, and supervises the mentors. She also coordinates end of the year celebrations between mentors/mentees where they are able to reflect on the year and decide whether to continue in the mentor relationship for another year.

Gao Foua feels a strong call to what AI stands for. She says, “During my journey in college, I always knew very specifically a call to serve the widow, the poor, and the orphan. I knew it was linked to my whole life. Since being a missionary kid, I assumed I would go overseas. Moving to Aliquippa was a discipleship process for me in learning about the poor and orphan, even in the midst of us and not just overseas. When I started doing this I realized I am living this out. Aliquippa Impact does that too.”

The aspect of Aliquippa Impact that Gao Foua values most is their focus on relationship. “I feel like all the programs focus on mentoring, whether it’s in groups or individually. The relationships are so key to that.” She also says, “Their respect for relationships, emphasis on being in relationship with the people we work with and not just giving them services. Change only comes through relationship.”

   

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