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Meet Jeff

I have been living in the South Side Neighborhood of Lancaster City for a couple of years. I am the Pastoral leader at a newly forming faith community, known as The Community Haus, which is part of the Atlantic Coast Conference of Mennonite Church USA. I am also involved with an website initiative to promote the re-emergence of our neighborhood . I also work as a Youthcare Worker for the Manos House, Drug and Alcohol Rehab. I guess I like to describe myself as an adventurous coffeeholic in pursuit of God stories, stories of community and a good cup of coffee. I am no stranger to Lancaster. Through my grandmother's side, I am a 10th generation Lancaster Countian, and an 11th generation resident through my Grandfathers' line. I like to think that my love for this area, literally runs through my veins.

I have spent a good number of years traveling, adventuring and touring with bands and organizations across the lower forty-eight states. Though, I've lived in Upstate New York, Northern California and Southern California (twice), I've realized the simple beauty of Lancaster. My wife attended college out here, from her hometown of Huntington Beach California and found an attraction to our quaint locale. We were married in 2006, and lived for about five years on College Avenue, right where the West End, Chestnut Hill and College Park Neighborhoods converge. Though, we moved away for a few years, it was in 2011, when our daughter was born that we found ourselves really missing the special characteristics of Lancaster City and feeling called back to this city we love.

There is something special about Lancaster City, but there is also something special happening here in the South Side and I love being able to call it home. Though, I was mostly raised in the suburbs, I actually spent the first few years of my life on the beautiful West End Avenue. Something about the city radically impacted me in my early years, and stayed with me all my life and brought me back here. I have been blessed to experience life in a few different Lancaster neighborhoods, and I have found each one is defined by a unique story, culture and heritage. I only hope, I can accurately portray our neighborhood's story and become a productive character of change, in it.

Three people now living I would like to have lunch with: I am sure there is so many, but naming three that come to my mind right off the bat would be (1) Blues Musician B.B. King (2) Humanitarian and Hip Hop Artist Emmanuel Jal and (3) Author Frank Viola. All three of these people have been either influential voices to me and have inspiring stories.

The cause I most believe in is: Is one injustice, any greater than another? I am very passionate many injustices but I guess I am serious about seeing people find healing and support through creating compassionate senses of community and also helping to further the hopeful message of peace in our violent world.

Name three things on your bucket list. (1) I'd really like to publish a book that finds itself released from a large publisher. (2) I have driven coast to coast over six times, but I'd love to do it at least one more time.(3) I'd like to go in a submerged cage, and swim with a Great White Shark.

What did you want to be when you grew up? Like many young guys, I had some big dreams as a kid. I wanted to be a farmer (like my Grandfather), become someone involved in church ministry, tour with bands and develop myself as a professional Baseball player. The ironic thing is, besides the professional Baseball player part, I've been able to walk out those dreams and professionally done them at some point. So, maybe it's time I give a call to Manager Butch Hobson at the Lancaster Barnstormers...

My greatest accomplishment is... Becoming a father. I love being a family man, even more than I enjoyed all my years touring, adventuring and traveling the country. I chuckle as I say that, because unless you're a parent - it's hard to explain how special the role of a child plays in a family.

My unfulfilled ambition is... To continue my sense of adventure. I often refer to having a 'traveling bone' that acts up. Though I can silence it for a while with a short road trip, I always have this unfulfilled ambition to travel, experience and see more things. You may remember the 1980's movie **"Short Circut." The robot, Johnny Five, was constantly in search of "More Input" or experience. I guess I compare my unfulfilled ambition to Johnny Five. It's amazing how you can really compare anything to an eighties movie.

Three words to describe me are... Adventurous. Coffeeholic. Creative. It's always easier "assuming" how to describe yourself, in comparison to assuming how others describe you.

Tell us something about you that most people don't know. I am not sure if there is something people don't know about me. I am almost too transparent at times.

What is the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning? I am a hard wake, but the first thing that comes to my mind is really two simultaneous questions; Do I have any time to myself before my daughter wakes up? and Where is the coffee?

What's the farthest-away place you've been? I have been a consistent traveler in the lower forty-eight, but besides some small stints across the Canadian border I have yet to get any further away from Lancaster, than the West Coast. I've called Southern California twice in my life and I imagine that's the furthest I've been away from here.

What do you think Lancaster will be like in ten years? I believe in the potential future of Lancaster. The city has progressed in so many ways over the past few years, and dramatically since my childhood. We have become a home of many new cafes, art galleries, bars, restaurants and healthy nightlife opportunities to our city. I would love to see these trends continue, but also I'd like to see an increased amount of creative green spaces, actual things to do to for visitors and a radical push to improve the deterioration of many residential homes. We're a special place, full of many individuals who are passionate about our city. How can this not make a bright future for our unique and historic city?

What do you consider to be Lancaster City's greatest asset? Our diverse historic neighborhoods. I love the power of story, and I think each one of our neighborhoods has a unique story, culture and heritage that still shape them, making them each attractable for various reasons.

Grabbing a bite in Lancaster with - $5, $10, $30 - Where (and what):

I am always pleasantly delighted with all the unique and tasty eating areas we have here in Lancaster City, hidden in every nook and cranny. I hate picking a favorite bite to eat for these prices, because so many come delicious places come to mind. I am a huge fan of so many places, including Antonio's, Isaacs, Slugger's Pizza, the Neptune Diner, Authentico Latino Resturante and many more.

$5 - The best $5 you can spend isn't the subway footlong, but rather a combination of goodness from the Torres Family Bakery on South Prince Street. You will walk away with a soft slice of handmade cheesecake, a handmade sugared donut and a small cup of Puerto Rican coffee.

$10 - I am totally getting a "Monterrey Breakfast Burrito" from Cafe One Eight, which is a delicious tortilla packed full of Hummus, eggs, tomatoes,spinach, avocado, roasted red peppers and feta cheese. Throw in a endless cup of coffee, and a meadow ice tea.

$30 - Right now, I am saying I'd take the family out for some "Pepperhomie", which is a hearth fired pizza smothered in delicious seasonings from a the Pressroom Restaurant. I'd choose a night, where they are serving outside in Steinman Park, with the musical tastings of a Jazz band playing in the background.

What are the best aspects of your job? I guess, the underlying role in all the places I work is this - trying to make a change for the better, in our world.

Would you describe yourself as introverted or extroverted? I am definitely extroverted, but people are always surprised when I share some of my introverted tendencies.

What is your coffee shop drink of choice? A simple black coffee from Cafe One Eight in Lancaster. No cream. No sugar. Sometimes, with an added shot of espresso for a little extra boost. Coffee beans imported from Central America and Ethiopia tend to be my favorites.

What music are you listening to now? As of late, my iTunes and Pandora account, have pretty much been centrally focused on Chicago blues, delta blues, jazz, rhythm and blues, folk, blues infused rock, various reggae artists and a diverse collective of singer/songwriter artists. Throw in some early protest music, the occasional old school hardcore album and the random pop album and you have my musical tastes nailed down.

Best advice from your parents... Don't be lazy. Work hard. Take care of your family.

What should they have taught you in school but didn't? School should have taught us things, by being more hands on. I would have learned a lot more that way. You can learn a lot from books and studying and really, as my book collection shows, I enjoy reading, a lot. However, nothing will become as memorable to you, as the ability to experience something through a hands-on approach.

If there is one thing life has taught me it is... We're all living a story of experiences. Enthusiastically share yours and compassionately listen to others. This is the root of true conversation.