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Pastor Cheryl Ruffin Recognized as Dignity and Respect Champion for Her Ability to Listen
 
– Cheryl Ruffin finds that listening to others is the best way to demonstrate respect to her peers, colleagues, family, friends, and the people around her.
 
“When people walk into my office, they need to be heard. When individuals enter into the sanctuary, they need to be acknowledged. I think that is probably the basis of who I am. Just making sure that people can be heard and their presence is acknowledged,” Ruffin said.
 
Nominated by Shari Manges, Ruffin has been chosen as the November Dignity and Respect Champion for her work as the pastor of St. Paul AME Church in Pittsburgh in counseling, mentoring, and listening to others in times in need.
 
“Cheryl does not miss an opportunity to help others and help them see the value in themselves.  She has been active in assisting people with barriers to employment to overcome those barriers.  Cheryl is a wonderful role model and truly promotes dignity and respect for all people,” Manges said.
 
Cheryl, 53, is married and lives in Knoxville.  As an employee relations specialist at the University of Pittsburgh, Cheryl ensures that all departments run well and that the employees are satisfied. Both jobs -- as pastor and as employee relations specialist -- intertwine as her goal is to make sure that everyone is heard, acknowledged, and happy.
 
“If I can assist an employee in being a better employee, then it ultimately impacts the University in a positive way. In my secular job as well as in my vocation, the important thing is that the individual is thought of as important.”
 
Cheryl is also a mentor through Amachi Pittsburgh, where she guides children who have an incarcerated parent. She finds that just listening and sharing another’s emotions can go a long way.
 
“Many times if people are tearful, I will hug them, because physical contact is important. If they are excited, join in. If they are mournful, hold their hand. If we are here, we are supposed to be here. There are no mistakes. Everyone has a right to be treated with respect, ” Cheryl said.
 
Cheryl was surprised and honored when she found out about the Champion award. She feels that if everyone treated each other with dignity and respect, a community would be able to better itself.
 
“It is simply going back to what you learned in kindergarten. It really isn’t about you. It is about how we are reacting together. Each person has their own agenda, and if we decide our greatest agenda is to engage each other for the betterment of the community, each and every one of our desires would be met,” Cheryl said.
 
Cheryl believes that working together is the key to making the community and world a better place, all starting with dignity and respect.
 
“If we begin to respect and listen to each other, we’d understand that we can help each other. If we would sit down and talk, we’d realize we all really want the same thing. It takes all of us working together to change a community,” she said.
 
The Dignity & Respect Campaign is an awareness campaign designed to join individuals, community leaders, community organizations, educational institutions, businesses, and corporations under the common notion that everyone deserves dignity and respect.
 
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