Four women honored in Beaver Falls for working to make community better place

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They are accomplished women who are all very busy working and volunteering to make their community a better place.

Four women have been honored as 2014 Beaver Falls Women of Excellence. The honor comes from Geneva College “for being role models, demonstrating high moral standards and serving as leaders of the community.”

The excellent women range in age from a grandmother to a high school senior. They are Sabrina Tench, Renee Suhr, Abigail Young and Nya Coleman. All were honored at a lunch Saturday at Geneva.

Sabrina Tench says she’s a Pittsburgh transplant who moved to Beaver Falls 21 years ago when her husband, Bernard, became pastor of Second Baptist Church in Beaver Falls. She wasn’t homesick for long, because the church and community “embraced us and loved us and made us comfortable,” she said.

As a minister’s wife she quickly decided “I don’t have to just watch him — I can participate.”

Mrs. Tench leads many ministries, including the choirs and the volunteers at a food bank. She sings for elderly shut-ins. She is a supervisor with Tiger Pause, a Christian after-school program that helps students with homework, serves meals and leads Bible study. It's "a lot of fun mixed with a lot of love,” she said.

Three years ago she started a program called Girlfriends for middle and high school students.

The slogan is “Girlfriends you have the power. Don’t give it away.” Girlfriends meets monthly to work on life skills and life situations, Mrs. Tench said. “We want them to know they are valuable to God and that there are people who also value them.”

Geneva College students volunteer in many of the programs with Mrs. Tench, so she and members of her church return the love, often cooking homemade meals for the college students.

She and her husband are the parents of three grown children and grandparents of five, including one who died shortly after birth.

Renee Suhr, a Buffalo, N.Y., native, is an artist and business owner who is especially interested in helping to make Beaver Falls a better place by attracting more shoppers — and more shops — to the town she has called home for 11 years.

In July, she opened Stray Cat Studio on Seventh Avenue. She maintains her own studio there, producing “functional” pottery, including platters and dinnerware. The studio is available for rent to other artists, but for now “there are more artists selling than producing,” she said. The work of 20-25 artists is sold in the retail portion of the shop.

The studio has five potter’s wheel, which artists can rent. Others can use a wheel when they sign up for classes.

Mrs. Suhr is president of the Beaver Falls Business District Authority, which “is trying to bring in new business and beautify the town.” The business district, she notes, is 15 blocks long, and could use an influx of more shops. “Beaver Falls used to be the place to be,” she said, and is confident the town can regain that status.

She has produced a pamphlet giving people “100+ ways to keep Christmas shopping local.” She and her husband have three children, 2 to 14 years old.

Abigail Young grew up in Coburn, a small town near Penn State University, and moved to Beaver Falls in 2005 to attend Geneva College. Like many students at the Christian school, she volunteered with community organizations. In her case, that was TRAILS Ministries, a nonprofit Christian organization that serves people “impacted by the trauma of incarceration.”

Since graduating in 2008, she has been an employed by TRAILS, initially working as a member of AmeriCorps — a national service organization whose employees work for wages that are below minimum wage.

“I think we made about $10,000 a year,” Ms. Young said. “You work at the poverty level so that you understand poverty.”

TRAILS works with inmates at the Beaver County Jail, as well as their families. TRAILS also works with inmates returning home from state and federal prisons, and with people in half-way houses.

Her job is “virtual visitation coordinator” — using computer programs to help inmates to communicate with family and friends who are unable to travel to visit.

Ms. Young often volunteers in her off-duty hours, babysitting for clients, driving them to appointments or just providing a sympathetic ear.

Nya Coleman, a senior at Beaver Falls High School, seldom has any down time. Her grades keep her on the high honor roll and she’s president of four organizations: her school’s chapter of National Honor Society, Student Council, Fellowship of Christian Athletes Bible Club and Ushers Club.

The daughter of Christopher and Valerie Coleman, she’s also a member of the high school track team where she runs in 100 meter, 200 meter and relay races and competes in long jump.

She works at Hank’s Frozen Custard in New Brighton and in the office of Tiger Pause youth ministry, and volunteers at church and community organizations.

“I never sleep and I don’t party,” Ms. Coleman said, when asked how she accomplishes so much. She will attend Kent State University next fall and will major in broadcast journalism.


Linda Wilson Fuoco: lfuoco@post-gazette.com or 412-722-0087.

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