TyAishia Gardner, 31, is the vice president of Highly Flavored Ministries at the Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church in Gary. She and her husband Tevin live in the Miller section of Gary. | Jeff Manes~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 28, 2013 6:07AM
“You are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted?”
— Matthew 5:13
(King James Bible)
TyAisha Gardner, 31, and her husband, Tevin, recently moved to the Miller neighborhood of Gary. The Gardners are raising three children, Marcus 13, Kortney, 11, and Jailyn, 8.
Gardner, 31, whose maiden name is Taylor, works as a teller at Chase Bank in Gary.
Our interview took place at the Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church on Chase Street in Gary. Gardner is a member there.
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This neighborhood on Gary’s west side?
“My grandmother lives right around the corner. Both my grandmothers are very good friends. My aunts and uncles all grew up together. They all went to Horace Mann (High School).”
Did you also attend Horace Mann?
“No, I chose to go to (Gary) West Side.”
Did you have my buddy Mark Spencer as a teacher or instructor?
“Yes, I was actually in the first and second ‘Lyrics.’ I think Mr. Spencer has done like 13 or 14 ‘Lyrics’ shows by now.”
“It’s like a showcase of famous actors and singers that he (Spencer) puts together. Students portray stars like Diana Ross or Frank Sinatra. It’s like a Broadway type-thing. One set you might have The Supremes and then have The Temptations in another.
“Mr. Spencer would bring in kids from the elementary schools to be part of it. It was really a city-wide thing. ‘Lyrics’ has grown a lot. It brings in money for West Side, too.”
What other extracurricular activities did you participate in?
“I was a cheerleader, in ROTC, and was in a modeling troupe.”
Tell me about ROTC.
“The first year I was on the drill team we came in first place. During my time and my parents’ time in high school, drill team competitions were really big. That was one of the reasons I decided to go to West Side. It was known for being a top-notch school as far as ROTC drill teams.”
Let’s switch gears. What kind of music do you listen to?
“Although I’m the president of the church choir, I listen to a lot of different types of music, not just gospel. Tevin and I like to listen to some of the older music from the ’70s and ’80s. The music nowadays, I don’t even know what they’re talkin’ about. Have you ever watched ‘Unsung’ on television?”
The Chicago White Sox, Turner Classic Movies, “Pawn Stars” and “Swamp People” is all I watch. Sorry.
“ ‘Unsung’ features people like Isaac Hayes, Lou Rawls or Mint Condition and you get to find out things about them that you probably didn’t know. You should check it out, I think you’d like it.”
Only if doesn’t conflict with “Swamp People” and “Pawn Stars.”
“Tevin makes me watch ‘Swamp People,’ but I love ‘Pawn Stars.’ I like Old Man, Chumlee, and the different items that come through the pawn shop. If the Harrisons don’t know what an item is worth, they’ll call on an expert who does.”
Enough TV. Highly Flavored Ministries?
“We’re a not-for-profit ministry under Pilgrim Rest. I’m the vice president. Right now, Highly Flavored is involved in a project called Peer Intervention & Behavioral Recovery Program.”
“When peers get in trouble at school, our youth will serve as mediators between the peer and the administrator. PIBR will attempt to keep students on the right track and decrease violence within schools by stopping fights before they happen.”
Tell me more.
“Students will help students understand there is an alternative to violence. We hope the program will reduce detentions and suspensions while creating a safe space for students during conflict resolution. The teenagers of Highly Flavored are going through training to be peer mediators right now.”
Highly Flavored programs have proven to been highly successful in the past.
“Yes, about 70 percent of our young people have gone on to college.”
How long have you been attending Pilgrim Rest?
“All my life. My mother was pregnant with me here. Pastor Adams’ father baptized me about a year before he passed. This church is a great place; it just keeps getting better.”
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TyAisha Gardner: Part of the recipe that makes Highly Flavored Ministries and Pilgrim Rest a wholesome repast for the soul.