Tag Archives: Volunteer

Hammers Hearts and Hands: November, 2017

07 December

Just a few days ago, as the sun was beginning to fall in the western sky, I found myself racing against the clock to make some progress on an important outdoor project, attempting to complete this work before the onset of winter. With saw and hammer, I set my focus upon the task of completing some simple framing, but in the process I inadvertently nailed several boards in an improper location.

Despite all the years of accumulating knowledge and experience in this field and despite my intention of doing a good job, I had done something that I’m never proud of doing. I had made a mistake.

Believe me, I am more than qualified to make that statement. I’ve made innumerable mistakes over the years of my life, and my dossier of mistake-making is more extensive than I am happy to admit. I’ve made mistakes in judgement, logic, and perception. I’ve made errors in decision-making, listening, speaking, and doing. I seriously doubt that there’s even one aspect of my life into which mistake-making hasn’t insidiously entered.

When I was a young man, I probably would have taken a sledgehammer to the framing mistake, demolishing what I had to work with, and leaving no alternative but to start all over again. That’s a human option, but it’s expensive. I’m not young anymore. My hands didn’t reach for a sledgehammer, but instead they picked up a tool called a “cat’s paw”, designed to discretely retract an embedded nail without causing too much damage to the overall work. Carefully, I applied the physics of this tool to my framing error and in a few well-spent minutes I was able to undo the wrong I had done without being destructive.

2000 years ago, a little baby boy was born to an unmarried and bewildered couple in a town called Bethlehem of Judea, half-way around the world from the region we call home. His newly born body was swaddled in long strips of cloth and placed in a borrowed, crudely built manger as His family had no proper cradletoputintouse. Thirty-three years later His scourged and flesh-torn body,now dead,would be removed from a Roman cross of crucifixion, wrapped in long strips of cloth again, and placed in a borrowed grave.

Without God’s grace, the life of Jesus, from birth to death, would arguably be just another sad portrait of a life riddled with the results of mistakes that have always plagued the human race. With God’s grace, however, His life becomes the miracle of salvation and the emblem for all true human progress. Jesus is the instrument, the tool, of divine grace that God sent into the world to repair all the mistakes we make without making things worse. Jesus is the personification of God’s grace in this world. He is the living incarnation of God’s will, not to condemn but to correct, to build rather than demolish, to be constructive instead of destructive.

Our world is self-destructing under the sledgehammer swing of pride, hostility, hatred, terrorism, violence, senselessness, bigotry, judgmentalism, and meanness. We are hurting one another, hurting the human race, hurting God, and hurting the cause of the Christ whom God sent into the world to save. Our pride and arrogance have grown large and heavy like the head of a 20-pound sledge and we ignore the delicate utility of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, God’s “cat’s-paw” in the Divine Builder’s Toolbox.

Nearly 28 years ago, Hosanna Industries was born to be an instrument of grace in God’s world. The mission has never known a day since its beginning on which destructiveness could not have prevailed. But we were and are called by Christ to be constructive, to build rather than destroy, to help rather than to hurt, to heal rather than injure. We have been invited to share in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and what a year of grace this has been! Since last Christmas, the mission’s service log reports that we have been privileged to help 161 needy households, work with 1675 volunteers, and use all of the gifts generously given to build more than two million dollars worth of equity in this world. We have made blunders, errors, mistakes in various ways, but God’s grace has been sufficient in correcting the way without condemning the work. God’s grace always prevails if we allow it to work.

Very soon, the Holiday Season will be upon us once more. For a little while, the world will be full of the signs of Christmastime. Lights, decorations, trees, presents, parties, carols and candles will ornament our experience, but will we grasp the profound and transforming meaning of it all? Sledgehammers work, if demolition is what you are aiming to do. But must we behave with demolition in mind? Isn’t there a better alternative? Christmas means there is a better alternative and its name is Grace in the person of Jesus.

With this newsletter, you will find enclosed our traditional Christmas present to you, dear friend. It’s another Hosanna hand-made Christmas tree ornament, our 24th in a row, this one made by Amy out of the same kind of canning lid that the mission has used for many years in harvesting God’s produce from the garden and in processing thousands of jars of good food for hungry people. I hope you enjoy it as you include it in your Christmas decorations this year. We give this little gift to you with all the grace we have been given, reminding you as well as ourselves that Christmas is always a choice, because Christ is always the most important choice a person can ever make. This Christmas, choose Christ. Choose His ways of love and forgiveness, peace and reconciliation. Give Christ a chance to correct rather than condemn. You will be amazed at what the Master Carpenter can do if you let Him carefully do His work. Perhaps as you light a candle this Christmas Eve, please know from the bottom of Hosanna’s heart, how very grateful we are for you and for all that you do to help us carry on in our work. Please continue to pray for us, remembering the worth of God’s grace in this world, His grace made known to the world in and through your own precious life, and sing with your voice of faith together with God’s children everywhere:

Silent night, Holy night, Son of God, Love’s Pure Light!
Radiant beams from Thy Holy Face,With the dawn of redeeming Grace, Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth, Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth!

Love and grace to you with unending gratitude, dear Hosanna friend, this Season and always,

DDE

Read more in our 2017 November Newsletter.

TOP TEN things you can do TODAY (Giving Tuesday) to give back

24 November

Today is Giving Tuesday, and in the spirit of giving, we came up with a TOP TEN list of ways to give back through Hosanna Industries. These are simple things you can do right now.

 

 

  1. Say a prayer or two! Pray for the people crying out, “Hosanna, rescue me now, Lord!”
  2. Donate online or mail a check.
  3. Like us on Facebook, share our pages with your friends, or rate us on Facebook.
  4. Write a review about your experience with us on Network for Good, which will help us to receive more support.
  5. Register for our metal-working class to make a handmade Christmas gift.
  6. Sign up to deliver Christmas gifts to a household that we’ve helped this year.
  7. Start collecting spare change. Every penny, nickel, dime, quarter, dollar, etc. makes a difference!
  8. Sign up (at the bottom of our website) for our e-blast to stay in the loop about our work.
  9. Shop like you normally would at Amazon.com (or Amazon Prime) but use Smile.Amazon.com instead, & .5% of every purchase will benefit the mission, with no extra charge to you.
  10. While you’re out running errands, grab something extra. Here’s our wish list: 

Thanks for your support & Merry Christmas!

Hurricane Harvey Response

01 September

In response to the inquiries we have received about our involvement in Hurricane Harvey rebuilding:

Yes, we anticipate helping needy households rebuild in the Houston area in response to widespread property damage and loss due to Hurricane Harvey.  We are prayerfully considering future efforts to act, not as “first responders”, but as “primary charitable rebuilders” after the water has receded and initial recovery efforts are underway.

Hosanna Industries travels to areas of disaster to help with the mobilizing of large groups of volunteers to build and repair homes damaged by tornadoes, hurricanes, flooding, or other catastrophic events to bring hope and restoration to hurting individuals and communities.   We’ve worked after multiple disasters, including Hurricanes Andrew, Floyd and Katrina, among others.   In 2005, Hosanna assisted over 500 households with rebuilding efforts after Hurricane Ivan flooded parts of the Pittsburgh region.  We are currently in the midst of rebuilding Richwood, WV, after the 2016 “thousand year flood,” and have helped 32 households so far  this year, implementing the labor efforts of our staff of mission worker, skilled subcontractors, and more than 900 volunteers.

Because of our extensive and varied experience with disaster relief and rebuilding, we see disaster recovery  as a multiple phase process.  These phases, can be described  as follows:

  1. Immediate emergency intervention (rescue, emergency relocation and temporary shelter/food/medical care, etc)
  2. Initial cleanup and utility restoration following the cessation of the initial calamity
  3. Evaluation and strategic community-based consensus building
  4. Actual physical rebuilding/reconstruction/repair
  5. Continuing analysis, evaluation, and long-term recovery problem solving

Our current news media culture often depicts disaster and recovery as happening almost simultaneously or suggesting that this be so, and public expectations sometimes project the same views. In the actual field of disaster recovery, this is not the case, should not be expected to be the case, and in many ways simply cannot be the case tactically and logistically.

It will take some time for the first few phases to be complete, and some funds.  In reality, the most expensive phase is #4, and the immediate fundraising that happens after a natural disaster is often meant for  or used toward the first two phases only.  Unfortunately, our culture has a short attention span and when the time for actual  rebuilding begins, the culture and news media will have moved on to new topics, while Houston is left trying to rebuild, at costs initially estimated to be some $40 billion dollars.

 

Hosanna Industries is requesting a few things:

  1. Prayers for people affected by Hurricane Harvey
  2. Let us know if you were personally affected, or have any connections with agencies in the area that may need help with rebuilding efforts.  We are specifically looking to help under-insured or under-resourced homeowners.  (The Washington Post estimates that 80% of those affected do not have flood insurance.)
  3. Keep us in prayer as we explore the possibilities, come up with a plan, and begin fundraising, volunteer recruitment, and organizational  efforts.

About Hosanna Industries: Hosanna Industries was founded in 1990 as a faith-rooted, non-profit mission whose work involves a variety of charitable initiatives aimed at helping our needy neighbors.  By the grace of God and through the mechanical and aesthetic arts, mission workers at Hosanna Industries build and repair homes for needy households; teach and lead classes and workshops in art, nature and spirituality; and train young people in construction skills.  Since our founding in 1990 Hosanna Industries has provided around $52 million worth of charitable work to the community for around $15 million.  We depend on the generosity of others to complete our work.

 

Hammers Hearts and Hands, June 2017

22 June

One year ago, the little village of Richwood,WV was brutalized by the floodwaters of nature’s storms. This already struggling community, beset with the decades-long decline of coal-mining, lumber-mill slowdowns, economic drift, population loss and systemic depression, found itself suddenly torn apart by the raging torrents of the normally quiet Cherry River when more than 6” of rainfall burst the river from its banks.

Floods take a toll upon a town. The property loss, interruption in utility services, transportation problems, mud, stench, destruction, and disarray are nearly more than a human heart can handle. Moving forward is hard when you can’t see the horizon through the immensity of debris. If one were to try to describe the most manageable aspect of a flood, it would be the water itself in all its ferocious power. The hardest part of a flood is what’s left behind when the water subsides.

Hopelessness is the worst of human ailments because when a person loses hope, it’s hard to see positive potential in a sunrise. When a town loses hope, it’s hard to see tomorrow.

A year ago, we flew into the area on an investigative mission and landed at the closest runway at the Greenbrier Valley Airport, about an hour’s drive from Richwood. Geoff Smathers graciously piloted the Piper Lance aircraft that had been gifted to Hosanna Industries by Norm Carroll just a few years earlier. Mission workers Brian Hetzer, Julie Wettach and Amanda Becker accompanied me as we drove to Richwood to meet with local leaders for the very first time.

As we walked into the makeshift community-center in the heart of town, introductions were given and received, strangers shook hands, and we sat together in a little circle of folding chairs. We prayed. The first words uttered by Hosanna afterward were simply these,“We believe God has led us to your town. We are sorry for all that you have lost. We are here to find out if we can be of help, and if so, how we can best deliver that help to you.”

Much has happened since then. I just returned from Richwood after experiencing with many other people a new kind of flooding that is leaving its mark upon the town. It’s a flood of healing and helpfulness, a flood of hard work being done well by many hands that are coming to the area. It’s a flood of rebuilding, repairing, restoring, rejuvenating. It’s a flood of God’s grace happening in thousands of different ways one day at a time. It’s a flood of green trucks and green shirts communicating a message of hope and joy and love.

At this mid-way point in the year, and after numerous journeys to Richwood by our mission workers and volunteers, nearly 20 rehabilitation projects have already been completed. By the end of July, I am confident that we will meet the needs of 30 suffering households. By the end of September, I believe we will reach the goal of bringing assistance to at least 40 households in that community. In the course of doing all this work, the mission expects to spend some $650,000 in providing building materials, furnaces, washers and dryers, and the skilled labor required to get the work done. We have already hosted hundreds of volunteers in the local abandoned armory, which has been thoroughly refitted as an emergency volunteer base and charitable construction center, and we expect to work with hundreds more before year’s end.

Two evenings ago, while preparing to return home the next day to meet local commitments, I found myself privileged to address the nearly 90 volunteers from the Avon Lake United Church of Christ, and upon their invitation, to proclaim God’s eternal Word and to serve Holy Communion in the context of an armory-hall evening worship service. I preached from one of the great post-resurrection passages in the Gospel of John, Chapter 20, verses 19-23, emphasizing the words of the Risen Lord to the shocked and bewildered disciples of 2000 years ago. “Peace be with you,” Jesus said. “As the Father has sent me, so send I you.” I reminded those gathered of the call of Christ, and how this calling is always personal and powerfully transforming, and perpetual in its eternal results. Then, humbly and quietly, I invited them to the Table of the Lord Jesus Christ, this one made of a piece of plywood with 2×4 legs and braces. We broke His Bread and outpoured His Cup, and as those dear young people already exhausted from the hard day’s work eagerly came forward with their adult leaders and our wonderful mission workers to receive communion, a tear welled up in my eye and I wondered about the fragile nature of life, how each and all of us are incomplete and broken, riddled with the damage of sin and pride and the floods of service to self.

Then I thought of another flood, the one of God’s gracious love, the one that provides healing to our hurts, forgiveness for our sins, redemption and meaning to our lives. I thought of how that flood provides fuel and trucks and workers and tools and machines and materials and even airplanes and pilots to answer the Hosanna cries in our world and the words from an old hymn came into my mind.

“There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins; And sinners, plunged beneath that flood, lose all their guilty stains…”

There are all kinds of floods in this world, dear friend. Most of them can lay a place or a person to waste. One of them can lift a person up to a new start, a season of reconstruction and building, a time of joy instead of sorrow.

Thank you, dear Hosanna friend, for helping in all the ways you do, to provide for the flood of God’s grace and love to this world of deep need.

~DDE

Read the rest of the 2017 June Newsletter here.

First Day of Spring Break

21 April

It was our first day of SPRING BREAK. I had thoughts of sleeping in and being lazy.

But I was asked to help Hosanna Industries.  Callie and I were happy to get up bright and early, 9am to about 2:30pm.  In that short time, a ramp was built, a sidewalk laid, a roof replaced, some light landscaping and fellowship and prayer happened.

Volunteering with this organization gives you an opportunity to work hard.  BUT it also gives you an opportunity to see LOVE at WORK! Every person in the group belongs.  There is work for everyone to do.  Helping place shingles on a roof, raking up leaves, building a wheelchair ramp, visiting with clients, placing paving stones or simply picking up after the work is done–everyone belongs. The best part of volunteering with Hosanna however, is getting to know people and loving strangers–hugging someone you didn’t know before, listening to stories of life, laughing with a new friend, witnessing tears of thankfulness…

Christan & Callie (age 7), volunteering with Hosanna Industries on Maundy Thursday, 2017

The folks at Hosanna WORK HARD, but they LOVE even HARDER! And during this Holy Week, I wouldn’t have wanted to be any place else.  It is important to me to raise my daughter to know this kind of love.  I want to help her understand how God loves her, and the work Hosanna does mirrors how HE has called us to love.  You can see WHY they work so hard! HE is the reason! And the love is so true and genuine.

Thank you folks for being such living sacrifices! Happy Easter!

-Christan Baker, Volunteer

March 2017 Newsletter / Hammers, Hearts, and Hands

05 April

March 2017 Newsletter

A few days ago, I stopped at the mission’s Gibsonia campus to check on a few things, and was delighted to arrive just as Amy and Emily were unloading the kiln from the previous day’s firing. They took a moment to show me the beautiful results, and I was thrilled to see the finished work of a dozen participants, most of them novices, who recently attended the mission’s four week clay construction class. Coffee mugs, trays, bowls, and other interesting and useful articles had been hand-crafted from clay, allowed to thoroughly dry, fired once, then glazed in a variety of colors and styles, and finally fired once again to melt the glaze onto the surface as a permanent glass coating. I was really impressed with the designs, the workmanship, and the final results. I hope you can become involved in one or more of the many programs offered there in the months to come, each of which is intended to further develop your God-given creative instincts in a setting that is focused on the One from Whom all blessings flow.

As I handled and observed these newly-fired ceramic creations, I thought about what they once were. Clay is a truly amazing substance. It comes from the earth. It can be wedged, formed, rolled into a coil or a slab, or thrown on a wheel. It can be shaped, while soft, into a countless number of shapes, forms and structures. When the shaping process is over, the item is left to dry thoroughly, until void of moisture content. At this stage, the item is called Greenware, and although it is hard and breakable, it can actually be reconstituted into pliable clay once again if exposed to enough water.

Once the first firing takes place, however, the Greenware is converted into Bisqueware. This is a physical transformation that turns the Greenware into a hard, brittle, glasslike substance that is no longer capable of absorbing water anymore. The firing process changes the clay into something it never was before, rendering impossible any chance of returning to what it once was. You can take a piece of the Bisqueware and grind it into a fine powder and mix it with water, but even in this state, it will never return to clay. This thermal process, known as vitrification, changes the clay forever.

A few hours ago, I had the privilege of listening to a newly posted podcast of a sermon preached by the Rev. Dr. Richard A. Morledge, then pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Bakerstown, on Palm Sunday, April 8, 1990. This sermon and nearly 30 years’ worth of others are being made available due to the graciousness of Dr. Morledge, the tedious efforts of our friend,Tom Shoup, who copied more than 1000 sermons from cassette tapes to a digital system, and the labors of Amanda Becker and Julie Wettach, both mission workers at Hosanna Industries, who are methodically uploading those sermons onto a newly established “It’s a Great Day in the Kingdom” podcast site which is linked to Hosanna’s website. We hope that these proclamations will be helpful to you in your own journey of faith, and I encourage you to frequently listen to these sermons as preached by a man whom I consider to be one of the greatest communicators of the Gospel in our lifetimes.

In the particular sermon which I listened to, Dr. Morledge described those whom he referred to as “Hosanna people”, those who are in desperate need, people who are crying out for God’s help. He taught that the word “Hosanna”, heard by Jesus on the first Palm Sunday 2000 years ago, was not really a word of praise as is commonly thought, but was instead a prayer. Its true meaning is, “Save us now.” Jesus answered that prayer in seven days. Later He sent His Spirit on the first Pentecost to equip the newly born Church to be His body in the world, continuing His great work of salvation.

Then Dr. Morledge went on to describe to the congregation of that great Church that a new mission was to be launched that day. Its name would be Hosanna Industries.

Following the sermon, additional words were spoken, announcing what this new mission was intended to do: “Whenever – wherever we hear as Christians the Hosanna cries of God’s needy children, our faith demands that we do something, representing a powerful Savior instead of an impotent theological idea. We cannot anymore bear the shamefulness of poverty that is unaddressed, nor can we bear mission mediocrity… this Church today in establishing Hosanna Industries is proclaiming loud and clear that ultimately some day the love of God in Christ will heal all the world’s ills.”

The mission was born as an outward expression of the Kingdom of God. It was born to proclaim the Good News by way of home construction, repair and rehabilitation for the poor; vocational training of the unskilled; small business development for would-be entrepreneurs; job creation for new and future mission workers; and volunteer mobilization, locally and beyond, to locations of impoverishment and calamity.

The first five young mission workers were called forward from the congregation. The first assistance project was to begin the very next day, less than a mile away from the church, at the home of an elderly woman and her disabled daughter. Their income was less than half of what the government defined as poverty level. A newly donated used pick-up truck was parked outside, donated by the late Frank Reese, president of North Pittsburgh Telephone Company, painted Hosanna green by Bart Williams, president and owner of Parks Moving and Storage and serviced by Tom Henry of Tom Henry Chevrolet.

Then, as this unique worship service drew near to its ending, Dr. Morledge asked the mission workers to kneel at the chancel, he asked the more than 500 people in attendance to rise, and he asked all to join hands.

At that moment, a Spirit of quiet holiness descended upon that assembly of believers. Some people shed tears. As I listened to the recording, I sensed a nearly palpable silence in that place 27 years ago. Then, with his voice momentarily breaking, Dr. Morledge offered the following prayer:

“Father, in faith we reach out to try to follow You, and like Abraham of old we’re not quite sure where we’re going but we go now to be your people in this community and clear to the uttermost parts of the world. Father, thank you for these individuals whom we set apart in Your name, please indue them with your Holy Spirit and empower them to be people who reach to the Hosanna people and in ministering may they be ministered unto, and as we join hands as a great church, Father, bind us in this time of faith, not with criticism but with our love, to try to grow and become even greater the people that you want us to be. We thank you for all of the blessings of the past and now we ask a special blessing. So please Father, to these six individuals, whom we now set apart and commission as mission workers of Hosanna Industries, thank you Father, thank you, please place Your Hands upon the heads of these particular missioners. Thank you Father, we feel Your Presence, we go out in faith in Christ’s name, Amen.”I knelt with those five young men that day, and remember the first sounds a new-born mission heard were those of the organ, beautifully phrasing,“Hosanna in the Highest!”

We were clay then. Soft, pliable, malleable. We were ready to be shaped by the Potter’s Hands.

I suppose the years have vitrified us through the hard and often difficult firing of work, striving, learning, succeeding, and sometimes failing. Whatever we may or may not be, I’m certain we could never go back to become what we once were. Though we’ve learned much, and tried hard to refine our efforts into a vessel of grace useful to the hands of God in this world, I still hope that something within the heart of Hosanna is yet soft and pliable, ready to be shaped at the Master’s bidding.

Over the years, Hosanna Industries has been privileged to help more than 3400 needy households. We’ve blitz built almost 200 new homes. We’ve received more than 160 mission workers, each one leaving a mark, some weaving at least a part of their hearts into the mission’s own heart. In the past 27 years, the mission has travelled about 2 1/2 million miles, moving more than 60,000 tons of material, working with about 150,000 volunteers, in spending less than 16 million dollars to get almost 60 million dollars worth of work done. We’ve had a presence in 35 states, provided disaster relief work in nearly a dozen locations, and given assistance to more than 40 charitable organizations who needed help. We’ve provided intensive trade-skill training for hundreds of people, and we’ve witnessed the creation of at least ten small entrepreneurial businesses that were an outgrowth of our influence. On occasion, the Lord has sent us abroad to five different countries, and we have hosted volunteers from a half-dozen nations and all 50 states in the United States of America.

Just a few days ago, I held a newly fired ceramic cup in my hands and admired its beauty. I can estimate the time when, not long ago, it was nothing but a lump of clay, but I could never know for how long it may be of future service to someone who finds it useful.

I believe God inspired the birth of Hosanna Industries. I’m grateful that His hands have molded and shaped this mission into the vessel of His choosing. I’m very grateful that the commissioning prayer of Dick Morledge 27 Palm Sundays ago has been answered innumerable times.

The cries of the Hosanna people have been heard, not ignored. I don’t know how long this vessel called Hosanna will be useful to God’s hands, but I’m so deeply grateful for your part in it, and for all who have gone before. Without you, and all the other wonderful, gracious, generous, believing people like you, I don’t think God could have ever shaped the mission His hands have made.

Happy 27th birthday, Hosanna! And thank you, dear Hosanna friend!

~DDE

Rev. Dr. Donn Ed, Executive Director & Founder

2017 New Year’s Resolutions

04 January

new-years-resolutions1. Volunteer more/ as a family/ regularly

  • Let us know if you want to come out and lend a hand.  Most volunteers are utilized on weekdays but do have occasional Saturday opportunities.  No special skills or tools required– just bring a willing attitude and a smile!
  • We could really use some more Hosanna Helpers– people who are generally available once a week to assist in the charitable construction program, or to help with things on campus.

2. Learn something new/ develop a hobby/ finish projects

  • Join us at a course at Hosanna Gibsonia to learn more about the aesthetic arts, or to discover a gift that you didn’t realize you had.  We have Open Studio nights where all are welcome to come work on a project, as well as courses in watercolor (January), metal sculpture making (February) & mug making (March).
  • Want to cross some projects off the list at home?  Come to a Love Your Home workshop to learn how to do-it-yourself with things like flooring, plumbing, drywall patching, etc.

3.  Give back to the community/ donate/ tithe

  • There are so many people hurting right here in our community & we could use your support to help them.
  • You can set up automatic donations at the “give now” button on the side of our website, or by calling our office.

4. Get in shape/ stay active/ be healthier

  • Sign up now for our 2017 HI-5k fun run/ walk.  The race isn’t until April 1st, so it’s great timing for a couch-to-5k goal, or even committing to be more active this spring.  Get a group of friends together to make training more fun.
  • Give us a call if you’d like to walk the trails around the ponds at our Gibsonia campus.