Ripple housing director
I grew up in Mt. Vernon, Illinois, and went to college at Fuller Theological Seminary where I received my Master of Arts degree. I worked as a group pastor at a Church in Arizona for a few years before I moved to the Lehigh Valley in 2019. Once I was settled in Allentown, I connected with Ripple Church in 2020 and began working with Ripple Community Inc. I felt drawn to the community because one of my core values is treating people with dignity and respect, which Ripple heavily exemplifies.
Ripple wants residents to feel comfortable enough to stop by the Community Center throughout the day, where they can engage in conversations and utilize resources to promote personal and professional growth. I have been working there for two years. At the Community Center, we hope to foster connections between residents and offer resources that support them. Some resources are short-term. Residents can rest, grab a bite to eat, or hang out and can participate in weekly activities like card games and art therapy. Others are long-term, including counseling sessions with staff and additional support from outside partners.
Ripple’s resources are made possible through connections like the parish nurses at St. Luke’s and Ripple Church, The Synergy Project, and Valley Against Sex Trafficking, which are programs that assist unsheltered individuals in the Lehigh Valley. We also work with Valley Health System and Street Medicine Institute. Several professionals come to the Community Center and work with residents, providing physician appointments, recovery meetings, and insurance or financial advice. These organizations dedicate their time to working with each individual on a personal level.
Alongside the Ripple Community Center is Ripple Village. RCI Village is a housing program for individuals in the Lehigh Valley. As the director of housing, my focus is that apartments be affordable and secure. I want families to be able to build a safe space.
We aim to provide deeply affordable housing at RCI Village through funding from our partners, who reduce the rent cost of apartments. Deeply affordable means going below the costs of Section-8 HUD Housing, which assists low-income families living in rental properties. Ripple Village has 18 apartments. Because availability is limited, we try to make the selection process as fair as possible. Once an apartment opens, Ripple Village holds a meeting between various department organizers who know the community. This ensures the selection process is equitable when determining who would best fit into the program based on their needs. We view applications on a case-to-case basis and prioritize individuals who are homeless.
The housing program is young. It’s been around for four years and houses residents who have been a part of it the whole time, while others are in two or three years. Ripple Village aims to combine deeply affordable, permanent housing with long-term stability and success. We are working with our connections to expand the district covered by Ripple so that we can offer additional housing to Allentown residents who applied to the program.
I admire how Ripple Community Inc. and Ripple Village offer support by creating relationships between individuals. It’s fulfilling to know that people who might have met through the Ripple Community Center are now neighbors and good friends living at Ripple Village.
Interviewed by Jula Tully ‘23, photo by Tom Amico