IN McKeesport Area Fall 2021 - Page 24

Living the Message Honoring those who show Respect , Dignity , Hope and Love



Aundre Robinson is prepared to go wherever life takes him , but his heart is at home in McKeesport . A lifelong resident of the City and member of Bethlehem Baptist Church , Aundre believes his talents and mindset are helping to make his community a better place .
“ Being involved in ministry is like trying to reach a different goal ,” he said . “ As a Christian , when I ’ m singing to the glory of God , I ’ m not trying to impress . I ’ m trying to impact .”
Every person connects differently to their environment and to their spirituality , Aundre explained . He connects through song and is active in multiple choirs . He also makes that connection in the African drum corps at the Healthy Village Learning Institute , where his mentors refer to him as a “ model McKeesporter ” who continues to make his community proud . For Aundre , the physical challenge of playing the drums becomes a spiritual experience .
“ You can ’ t really explain it ,” he said . “ It ’ s just something I do – something that is a part of me that comes naturally . It uplifts my spirit , and I have a connection with my drum . This feeling taught me that I need to be fully present in whatever I ’ m doing in order to perfect my craft .”
A graduate of McKeesport Area High School ’ s Class of 2021 , Aundre was active in the Air Force JROTC , football , baseball , and recently formed Voices of Change organization . Aundre was proud to represent the district as a student ambassador for the DICK ’ s Sporting Goods Foundation ’ s “ Camp Discovery ” this summer .
“ You have to be respectful of the position you ’ ve been put in ,” Aundre said . “ You have to be mindful that you are speaking for others , and you want everyone to be represented and treated fairly . You have to understand the heaviness or the weight behind what you ’ re doing .”
Aundre said being a positive influence on McKeesport ’ s youth is important : “ There are so many things out there for kids to be influenced by . It ’ s nice to step in and show them the difference between the wrong way and the right way to take control of your life .”
Today , Aundre is following his interest in dogs by working as an apprentice to a local trainer . He wants to work with dogs on obedience , socialization , and service .
Living the Message
The McKeesport Message Committee , a subgroup of McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko ’ s Select Committee on Crime and Violence , invites the public to nominate community members who exemplify the words , “ Respect , Dignity , Hope and Love .”
Monica Hancharik is a lifelong McKeesporter who was born and raised in the City ’ s Tenth Ward – her childhood filled with the hustle , bustle , and important life lessons that came with working in her family ’ s corners store , Zoscak ’ s Market . “ My dad taught us work ethic ,” Monica recalled . “ It was how we learned to work with others and be part of a team . People thought that , because it was our family ’ s store , that we would get special treatment , but that wasn ’ t the case . We had to do our jobs , and we had to do them well .”
Monica has applied that work ethic to every pursuit since then – her work in the G . C . Murphy data center , McKeesport Area School District ’ s Tiger Tots preschool , Allegheny Intermediate Unit ’ s First Steps Parenting Program , and her neighborhood ’ s local task force .
Each stage of Monica ’ s life prepared her to lead First Steps , a support program that promotes healthy families through parent education and child development . She applied lessons from her childhood , babysitting jobs , and pre-school education to shape the AIU program into a true asset for the McKeesport community . For her , it was about giving parents the proper tools to succeed in their own way .
“ You can read something in a book , but until you live it , you don ’ t really know it ,” Monica said . “ It ’ s a matter of trying your best . It ’ s experience . When you ’ ve been there and done that , you know what works . It ’ s almost our duty to share that knowledge with others .”
In her retirement , Monica isn ’ t any less active . She spends time with her husband Bob , their three adult children , and six grandchildren . She serves as chair of the Fawcett Plan Task Force , organizing activities like Halloween parades , yard sales , and National Night Out celebrations . When her children were little , Monica hosted neighborhood gatherings ; and she got involved in the task force to carry on traditions set by Rocky Tedesco and charter members of the organization .
“ I was always taught to support my community because that ’ s what ’ s going to keep the community alive ,” Monica said . “ I love McKeesport , and I want it to thrive . It ’ s important to shop local and to take part in community events . It ’ s such a vital thing to meet your neighbors and interact with each other .”
McKeesporters of all ages – from youth volunteers to senior citizens – display characteristics of Respect , Dignity , Hope and Love on a daily basis in our community . Whether through organizing community activities or offering a helping hand to those in need , everyday people are doing their part to make our city a better place . If we look within our schools , our neighborhoods , our churches and our service