Singin’ Her [own] Song
by Cate Murway

Energetic Erica Tiffany Segers, BHS ‘10 will miss the cut off by one day to audition this October 19th to be a contestant on “American Idol”. This original thinking young girl with her own personal creative approach will be 16 years old in time for the 2008 auditions. She expresses herself and her dreams clearly, possesses a good mind with much potential for achievement and the innate ability to use it for her advancement. Erica, verbally both ambitious and determined, is striving to achieve a level of accomplishment on her singing talent. A Bristol H.S. cheerleader, softball and field hockey player, possibly venturing into the fast paced world of track & field, Erica shared her vocal talents by singing the well-known a cappella Christian hymn, “Amazing Grace” at the memorial ceremony on Sunday, September 11, 2005 in the official Pennsylvania 9-11 Memorial Park, “Garden of Reflection” on Woodside Road.

Erica shares that her own personal “American Idol” is Christina Maria Aguilera, ten years her senior “with a similar family background”. She admitted she “would cry if she should meet her” and “wouldn’t be able to talk”! Throughout her youth in Pittsburgh, Aguilera sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" before Pittsburgh Penguins Hockey games, Pittsburgh Steelers football and Pittsburgh Pirates baseball games. Here in the Borough and at the local competition schools, Erica wows her own audience with the National Anthem before the BHS football games. She has kept her promise to perform at any school programs, in the Spring Concert, anything for the opportunity to showcase her talents for her family and friends. She was part of the “Yuletide carols being sung by a choir” when she sang “The Christmas Song” at the Bristol Riverside Theatre Christmas Concert, “helping to make the season bright”. Her last role was Mrs. Pomerantz in the BHS production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning 1959 Broadway musical, now often called a neglected masterpiece, Fiorello!, based on the true story of the short, dumpy, gruff-voiced, aggressive extrovert, Fiorello LaGuardia, the U.S. Congressman and the Mayor of N.Y. She acted in the first scene and “the guys danced and it was very funny!”

Erica’s talented mom assisted backstage with the backdrops, set design and construction for the scenery and props.
On a daily basis, Erica exudes spirit, enthusiasm and genuine heart, portraying self-confidence, a strong unyielding will and the courage of her convictions to follow her dream. This President of her Class also loves dancing, especially Latin Dancing, where she can experience the feel of the rhythm of the beat with intricate footwork and the wild spins. Up until recently, she was receiving vocal training from Jennine Babau, a 2001 recipient for best choreographer at a prestigious N.Y. Performing Arts Company, who has been singing and performing professionally, on Broadway (Annie), television (One Life To Live), radio (singing commercials), since the age of 6. Jennine enthusiastically shares, "Erica is truly a hard worker with a lot of potential in the industry. She has a natural gift and is so fortunate that her mom keeps her so well grounded." Erica is so determined to hone her skills in solo performances, expanding her vocal range, that she is dedicated to her multi-stage extremely effective warm up drills to strengthen her voice, correct her vocal pitch and help her sing longer and better overall. Stardom takes practice!

Erica’s mom, certified private investigator, Maria Teresa Figueroa, BHS ’81, and her soon-to-be step-dad, Jim Alicea are “so proud of her”!  They know that Erica is no ordinary young person. She is full of imagination and originality, and quite ambitious, hungering for new experiences. Her “American Idol” dreams are not just about talent, or about how great she can sing or perform; it's going to entail a relatable personality- a whole package.

“For the strength, to be strong
For the will to carry on
For everything you do
For everything that's true
I turn to you”

She has a supportive, closely knit family. Her Washington Street resident grandparents, retired chef, Ismeal and retired seamstress, Marie [Garcia] Figueroa were born in Puerto Rico. Erica’s mom is their youngest child and the only one “Born in the USA”. She has one brother, machine operator, Miles Segers, Jr., BHS ’06 and happily shares that she will soon be an Aunt!

As an exceptional Distinguished Honors Student with an average exceeding 93%, Erica has proven that she is as serious about her studies as she is about her music. She and her chorus class will be performing in the spring choir concert, singing a "traditional" church song “Hail Holy Queen” and the moving melody, "Be Thou My Vision". As a member of the Student Council, she helped coordinate the BHS blood drives, a simple and a powerful way to serve the community and make a difference, and willingly decorated the school for the traditional Thanksgiving football game for the players, students and fans. The “Winter Ball” was beautifully themed and a huge success with her help.
Her favorite color is a “girlie” pink and she likes the fried chicken she makes herself!
For Erica, the Borough is perfect! “It’s small and I can walk anywhere!”

She loves bike riding with her 2nd cousins, 9 year old, Dominique “Muma”, 4 year old, Arianna and year old, Laila.
A white high-performance, impressively equipped four-wheel drive / luxury SUV Range Rover is her personal dream car.
Start singing, Erica!

[“I Turn to You” lyrics by Christina Aguilera]

To recommend a Bristol borough youth to be spotlighted: e-mail
A dream come true
By: JOHN ANASTASI Bucks County Courier Times
March 21, 2010

The Interfaith Housing Development Corp.
of Bucks County helped one mother of two
to own a home when little help was available.

For Bristol's Maria Figueroa, simply being in the backyard of a home she finally owns fills her with pride.

"I just sit back there and unwind, relax," said Figueroa. "For me, I worked very hard to get something that's mine. This was something that I did on my own."
On her own, for sure, but she got some help from Interfaith Housing Development Corp. of Bucks County and its lease-purchase program for low-income and moderate-income families who want to own homes.

In 2001, Figueroa was one of the first Interfaith clients to use the program. It has since become a staple at the nonprofit Bristol-based housing agency that traditionally provided homes for rent or sale to moderate-income individuals and families who needed assistance.
And Figueroa has become a homeowner.
"Within the last few years, we've moved away from renting," said Liz Lampen, Interfaith's property developer.

The downturn in the housing market has made it cheaper for Interfaith to purchase and refurbish homes and Lampen said the Interfaith Lease-Purchase Program has become a popular avenue for clients, like Figueroa, who don't want to rent but aren't yet ready to buy.
They lease a property from Interfaith, in most cases, for up to three years. Eventually, after completing mandatory debt elimination programs and homebuyer counseling and education classes, they get the option to buy.

Figueroa brought her two children and a quite a bit of debt to Interfaith Housing in 2000 after she left an abusive relationship in New Jersey. Looking to start over, she enrolled in what, at the time, was a pilot Interfaith Lease-Purchase Program.

"It was important for me to have a home that my kids and I could have on our own and that it'd be safe," she said.

She made a down payment of about $1,000, leased a home in Bristol and began paying down her debt. She took part in the homebuyer classes, but the three-year program took six years after Figueroa was injured at work and had to go on permanent disability.
"I had a lot of setbacks and they were very understanding," said Figueroa, who eventually settled the debt and was able to buy the house. "If not for Interfaith, I don't know where I'd be. I have two kids. Their lives were disrupted and I didn't want to disrupt them more. It was important not to go into an apartment."

Owning the home, a three-bedroom twin on Mansion Street, has been a dream come true, she said.

"It was a wonderful lifeline for me," Figueroa said of Interfaith. "Their hand was out when no one else's was there."

Using funding from donations and county community development allocations, Interfaith tries to develop about 20 properties a year, mostly in Bristol and Bristol Township. The nonprofit buys them, helps refurbish them and then makes them available for rent, purchase or lease-to-purchase arrangements.
Clients whose income is 80 percent of a designated median family income or lower are eligible to take part. The income limits are set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. For a family of four, it is $62,250. For a family of two, it is $49,800.
Lampen said about 20 clients have completed lease-purchase arrangements. Another five are working their way through the program.

"It was so important to me to have something I could leave behind for my kids," said Figueroa, who is now a board member at Interfaith. "I feel like I'm giving back what was given to me. + It took longer than I thought, but they didn't give up on me."

Maria Figueroa in her favorite room of her home on Mansion Street in Bristol Borough. Figueroa was able to purchase her home through the Interfaith Housing Development Corporation's lease purchase program. Kim Weimer/staff photographer
Maria Figueroa repairs an angel statue outside her home on Mansion Street in Bristol Borough. Figueroa was able to purchase her home through the Interfaith Housing Development Corporation's lease purchase program. Kim Weimer/staff photographer