Equipped to Serve in Community - Geneva College, a Christian College in Pennsylvania (PA)
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March 25, 2021

Equipped to Serve in Community

Serving a community is hard work, doubly so in a pandemic.

Geneva alumna Bethany (Canzanella ‘03) Warren has filled the need for a coffee shop across 4th Avenue from Geneva College. Warren and husband Russ founded Beaver Falls Coffee and Tea Company in 2006. They run the business while raising their three children Olivia, 14, Asher, 9, and Violet, 6.

Warren says the coffee shop went from an idea to something she truly felt called to, especially regarding hospitality and showing the love of Christ through their business.

The coffee shop — often called “Bifcat” — is where college students, professors and community members buzz in and out of the shop, some chatting with colleagues or fellow students over a Golden Tornado latte, while others quietly sip on their drinks and reflect over the latest Humanities 103 reading.

“The pandemic changed so much,” she says. “Being an in-person business, for a while there things were changing every day.”

The once bustling coffee shop went strictly to take-out, delivery and utilized third-party delivery services like DoorDash.

“Things have gone quite a bit better than I expected, considering the heartache and headache it took to reset the coffee shop,” she says. “I’m really thankful for that. For our community for rallying behind businesses like ours.”

Warren has done her best to continue to be hospitable to the community and to her employees.

“Not laying anyone off was extremely important to me,” Warren said. “We need our employees to feel safe.”

Safety is at the forefront of the work that many doctors, engineers, and technicians are doing throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Clara Greene ‘19 is one of those folks.

She studied biomedical engineering with a minor in math and biology. She currently works at Intelomed, Inc. as an associate biomedical engineer.

Greene is currently developing an app to remotely detect respiration rates, which she says could be particularly helpful when diagnosing COVID-19.

“One of the symptoms (of COVID-19) has been an increased respiration rate, so to be able to detect that without being in close proximity to the patient is great for reducing exposure,” she explains.

Greene has been working diligently to get the app ready to go to the clinical trial phase.

“We have been working even harder during this time to get our app in the hands of medical professionals so they can use it to collect a patient’s vitals at a distance or even over live video to protect both the patient and medical professionals,” she says.

She hopes the work will “transform the medical field in terms of telemedicine and non-contact medical devices.”

Greene says her professors at Geneva motivated her to go above and beyond in her studies, which she now applies to her work at Intelomed.

Greene feels equipped to face challenges she might not have been able to before encountering the Geneva integration of faith and learning.

“My natural tendency is to worry. But my attitude and focus through this COVID-19 season has been to not worry and rather have faith, trusting God to provide for me what I need each moment of the day by keeping my focus on Him and asking Him to show me the way,” she says. “This attitude is something I developed during my time at Geneva because I often found myself worried about doing well in my classes. I was consistently encouraged by Geneva staff and faculty to just keep taking one step at a time and have faith.”

Nearly 3,000 miles south of Geneva’s campus, Laura (Scott ‘04) Cojon finds herself navigating how to care for her community during the pandemic.

Cojon, who studied math education and minored in Spanish at Geneva, runs Hogar Manna Guatemala Ministries with her husband, Edgar, and their children, Nathan, 9, Benjamin, 6, and Caleb, 2.

Hogar Manna (Facebook: Hogar Manna Children's Home – AMA) is a children’s home in Guatemala City that houses youngsters ages 0-10 who have been removed from their families because of abuse or extreme neglect. The ministry aims for family reunification when possible or adoption. But many of the children do not qualify for adoption, Cojon says, meaning they stay at Hogar Manna until they turn 18.

The ministry currently has 21 children ages 2-17, and one 18-year-old contributing to a total of 40 people living in the home.

Back on March 14, Guatemala closed its schools and places of employment and restricted travel.

“Many of our day staff have not been able to come, and our nannies have brought their children to stay at the home with us,” Cojon says. She has not left the compound in over 70 days; her husband Edgar is the only one who has ventured outside for supplies.

Finding enough food for everyone at the home has been a struggle.

“We’ve had to do multiple shopping trips to different stores to try and find items,” Cojon says.

In Guatemala, many restrictions are in place to prevent the spread of the virus, including no public transportation — which many of her employees rely on — a curfew each day, and a mandatory requirement to wear masks, or else a fine ensues.

“While these restrictions are needed to stop the quick spread of the virus, the consequences for many people have been horrible,” Cojon says. “Most people here are informal workers who live day-to-day, rather than paycheck-to-paycheck. They have no way to purchase or store up food. After three months of these restrictions, they are desperate.”

Acute malnutrition in children has tripled in the last three months, Cojon says, as well as an increase in deaths due to hunger.

The situation in Guatemala and other parts of the world due to the coronavirus is complicated, and Cojon says she appreciates how Geneva prepared her for the complexities that life throws.

“The Bible classes and political science classes and humanities classes helped me realize that the world was not as simple as I thought it was. I learned that every issue has many sides and might not have a correct answer,” she says. “Most of all, Geneva helped me grow in my faith and realize that for all the complicated problems in the world, the most important answer is: Jesus loves me this I know.”

This article originally appeared in Geneva Magazine, Summer 2020 edition.