Sunday, December 21, 2014


What Impact Haven’t They Made?

It’s funny how food can bring people together.Tiffany Ruff, a 12 year resident of Aliquippa, first encountered Aliquippa Impact when the organization brought around food baskets to residents. Through a conversation with the AI members, she heard about AI’s various programs, which her children now belong to.

Tiffany’s daughter, Tiarra, is in 10th grade at Aliquippa Jr./Sr. High School. She is part of the school’s volleyball team and her favorite class is Spanish. While Spanish is her favorite subject, her interest in history has also grown since joining Christyn Gilliam’s (Cohort Leader) cohort group. Christyn raised her interest in learning about the civil rights movement and helped her bring her grade up in her history class. Also, Tiarra was able to experience history beyond her textbooks through trips her cohort made to the Carnegie Museum of National History and the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh. She loves learning about the history of the city.

Tiffany’s son, Tyshaun, an 8th grader at Aliquippa Jr./Sr. High School, is a member of Steve Rossi’s (Executive Director) cohort group. He enjoys drawing cartoons and taking trips with the cohort group, too. According to Tiffany, “Guys like Pastor Joel, Mr. John, Mr. Steve, and Mr. Ryan have definitely been positive male role models in Tyshaun’s life.” She believes they have taught him valuable leadership skills.

Tiffany says that Aliquippa Impact has brought life to the city. She explains, “What impact haven’t they made? They’ve offered a lot for the kids to do, trying to keep them off the streets. They are always reaching out to anyone in need. Their doors have always been open to any and everyone who may need any kind of help. I think it makes a big difference to know that somebody actually cares and is willing to help you. I know that people have a lot of respect for Aliquippa Impact.”

Tiffany thinks of Aliquippa Impact as family. She says, “Aliquippa Impact has been a huge support system for us throughout various things that we have gone through in the time we have known them. They’ve also provided mentors for my children, who have made a huge impact on them. “


Deanna and Jason Roberts Support AI

Deanna Roberts, Joel Repic’s sister, has seen her brother’s vision for Aliquippa Impact blossom over the years. She has been involved with the ministry in some form since it first began. Before moving to Chicago in 2009, she taught art and dance classes to youth in AI’s day camp. Then in 2007, she served the role of City Camp Arts Coordinator where she developed arts curriculum for City Camp teachers and taught dance/movement classes with a cultural focus. She also directed a 2-week drama camp for middle and high school students for 3 summers using poetry, movement, and performance to explore topics such as hope and having a voice in the community.

Her role at Aliquippa Impact was very fitting because of her passion for dance/movement therapy. As a dance/movement therapist and counselor, she works with adults with chronic mental illnesses and both children and adults in a group practice for creative arts therapy. She says, “Both professionally and personally, I value the use of arts, movement, and dance for emotional exploration and expression. I believe God created our bodies as a wonderful resource for understanding ourselves better and to communicate to others. I get really excited about helping people to practice using movement in this capacity.

While Deanna works as a dance/movement therapist in Chicago, her husband, Jason, is a Physics professor at Chicago Public School. They both share a desire to see God’s kingdom grow. This is reflected in their involvement with their parish, Vineyard Christian Church and their continued support of Aliquippa Impact. They follow up on AI’s development through Joel and other family and friends in Aliquippa, supporting the ministry financially and through prayer.

Deanna and Jason believe in using the resources they have to help bring God’s truth to light. By supporting Aliquippa Impact, they are doing just that. Deanna says, ‘We are fans of giving to an organization where we can trust its leaders to readily seek God’s will and where we can actively see use of its resources with those in need. I trust the vision of AI through years of witnessing its programs, meeting and seeing the people whom it’s reached, and hearing its vision to continue to bring hope to the community.”

The couple still visits Aliquippa from time to time. During their visits, Deanna often encounters some of her former campers from the early summers of City Camp. She reflects, “Then children, these growing adults continue to develop awareness of God’s truth for them and seem to have a real hope for their futures, wherever it may lead. It’s inspiring to see committed change and support actually making a difference, and it’s inspiring to see an organization that continues to grow and develop in creative ways as it serve its community.”


Uncommon Grounds Café - Herb Bailey

“I see it as a practical application of loving your neighbor; a practical application of Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven; a practical application of loving the least of these.” These were words that Herb Bailey, Ministry Director of Uncommon Grounds Café, had to say about Aliquippa Impact’s ministry to Aliquippa. Herb has been the Ministry Director of the café since John Stanley left at the end of 2013. The Uncommon Grounds Café is in partnership with Aliquippa Impact in numerous ways. The café trains AI’s summer staff in practical evangelism and also partners with AI’s summer day camp, City Camp, by providing exposure to the arts for the youth in the program. The café will also be involved in AI’s new initiative, the after school program, by providing arts exposure.  The café has also held art classes that some youth involved in AI programs have attended. The Uncommon Grounds Café also works with Jobs for Life, which builds job skills, but more importantly, character.  When serving the city of Aliquippa, ministries can overlap and work together to minister to the community. This is the case with Aliquippa Impact and the Uncommon Grounds Café.

The Uncommon Grounds Café is evangelistically motivated to make Christ known. According to Herb, the café is “a café that moonlights as a ministry, extends hospitality and at the same time uses listening as a tool for evangelism. We are a full-service coffee shop with two focal points – community and the church. We train the church to be able to reach out to the community and we bring the community in contact with the church.” The inspiration for the café came from the city having more than forty churches and forty bars. The original director spent a year listening and hearing from the community. They wanted a place where they weren’t being preached at and weren’t getting drunk. “Offering dignity by listening to people’s stories was birthed and is still part of our DNA,” says Herb.

When asked what aspect of Aliquippa Impact Herb values most, his answer is “Seeing adults willingly be selfless and engage in mentoring and loving the next generation."


Beka Jaussen

Rebekah (Beka) Jaussen recently joined the Aliquippa Impact staff as an Asset Coordinator. As an Asset Coordinator, Beka will lead the school-based mentor program at Aliquippa Junior/Senior High School. Although we have relationships with many of the students in this school, Beka’s presence will add to and grow those relationships to a greater depth. Beka will also be leading a new Cohort starting this fall. This means we will be adding 8-10 new youth to our program who will receive in depth guidance and leadership through AI and the Developmental Assets to help them grow into healthy adults.

Beka is originally from Greenville, PA and graduated from Penn State University with a Management and Marketing degree. After college, she moved to the Dominican Republic to manage a coffee shop ministry. After one year, she was able to turn over this ministry to someone from the DR that she had trained and prepared for the position, which was her goal. Beka met members of the Coalition for Christian Outreach (CCO) in the Dominican Republic and she was later approached to work for them as a campus minister. Beka is currently a CCO campus minister at the Community College of Beaver County (CCBC) Campus. The CCO’s mission statement is “Transforming college students to transform the world”. The position involves a dual role of working with AI as well and this is how Beka was introduced to Aliquippa Impact.

Beka says, “I believe in the model that AI uses and have a passion for community development and social justice. I believe that Jesus’ life was an example of community development in a way that He came down in the flesh and dwelt among us.” The most important thing to Beka is her personal relationship with Jesus Christ. “AI loves people through the eyes of Christ,” says Beka. “I really like how AI has not just brought programs into Aliquippa but has moved into the community and serves alongside of it.”

We are very excited to have Beka join our staff and can’t wait to see how God moves through AI’s presence in the Aliquippa Junior/Senior High School and through a new cohort!


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!


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