The Social Voice Project

The Social Voice Project

LLBC Podcast (Ep04): Uncommon Grounds Cafe: "Loving My Black" Spoken Word Showcase

April 02, 2021

"Loving My Black"

Spoken Word Showcase


A special event celebrating Black History Month and the voices of Aliquippa and Beaver County. The "'Loving My Black' Spoken Word Showcase" was recorded live on February 26, 2021 at the Uncommon Grounds Cafe in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania. It is hosted by Andrenna Williams and features a variety of voices and stories from the community.

This live event recording has been inducted into the Listening Library of Beaver County, a special multimedia collaborative project that captures, preserves, and shares the voices and stories of our time.

Our Community Partner

Uncommon Grounds Cafe: Our Story

We're more than just a great cafe. From art programs to community outreach to being the perfect venue for your event, we're here to serve you and the community of Aliquippa. Have a look around our site, or better yet, come on down and visit!

​Uncommon Grounds Café is run by evangelists and volunteers. We reach the least, the last, and the lost with the gospel of Christ through listening and offering dignity. We are a space for Churches to learn and practice the Great Commission through volunteering, work missions, and training. We are a space for transition from isolation to community. If you enjoy good food, excellent coffee, and you would like to “make a difference in the world,” we have a place for you.

Christ, Coffee, Culture.

Here are some things we do: Open Mic Nights, Monthly Veterans Appreciation Breakfasts, AA & NA Meetings, Ladies Night, Celebrate Recovery, Bible Studies, Summer Mission Teams, Urban Mission Training, The Bridge, and Womens Ministries.

When Church Army officer John Stanley arranged in 2001 for the purchase of an old store front on Franklin Avenue in Aliquippa, he expected he and other volunteers would have a working coffee shop ministry in six months, tops. 

Then part of the building literally fell off.

Nearly four years of volunteer labor followed, but the results are impressive. Now, a fully functional café and coffee shop stands in what used to just be another run-down building. Of course, Uncommon Grounds isn’t really about just serving a good latte or even paying its bills (something Stanley never expects it to be able to do). It aspires to help a whole community heal and lead individuals to Jesus. “We’re here to change Aliquippa,” said Stanley. Sometimes that means connecting someone down on their luck with the proper social services, or just listening. In other moments, there may be opportunities for evangelism and guiding people to local churches.

But doing all those things is going to take volunteer labor a bit different than that required to refurbish the building. Stanley is currently in the process of recruiting what he hopes will be a team of 60 workers willing to make coffee, cook sandwiches and connect with patrons. He’s hoping Episcopal churches that supported Uncommon Grounds during the refurbishment phase, such as Church of the Ascension in Oakland, Prince of Peace in Hopewell, Church of the Savior in Ambridge, Fox Chapel, and St. Stephen’s in Sewickley, will be joined by others all over the Diocese as well other congregations of many denominations from all over the Aliquippa area in sending volunteers and making use of the café.

Before being put to work, all volunteers undergo an extensive training course designed to help them not only know how to make various coffee drinks, but also how to work with patrons and deal with difficult situations and people. The key concept, said Stanley is to act towards others as Jesus did. More than 20 have already taken the training, he added. However, more volunteers will enable Uncommon Grounds to be open more often and more regu...