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“How do you pick your clients?”

23 June

I am often asked the question, “ How do you pick your clients?” Most often, they pick us. By that I mean that folks hear of us from other sources and give us a call requesting our services. I have a conversation with them to determine their need and their circumstances. Sadly, there are many folks who abuse systems of assistance and part of what I do is try to discern between persons in dire need from circumstances beyond their control and persons who may in fact have some dire needs but our service to them will only bandage the gaping wound of their continued lack of initiative to solve their own problems while expecting those around them to provide for them and their families. For the most part, the calls I receive are of serious need under legitimate and grievous circumstances. We have many widows call us each week. The stories are different but the situations are the same; they worked hard along side their husbands raising families and making homes. They retired on a social security, sometimes small pension income. Then the husband passes away and the widow is left with half of the income she was living on before. The home is aging and needs expensive repairs. She can’t sell the home because of the disrepair and it is paid off so selling at all seems ridiculous because she would have to rent and does not have the money to do so. I can tell you that many of the widows I speak with actually try to live in and care for their homes AND pay for food and medicine on and income of less than 10,000 dollars per year. When your roof leaks and it will cost upwards of 7,000 dollars to replace, well, it doesn’t get repaired and the leaks get worse and pretty soon the interior of the home is ruined too. Another scenario that is becoming all too common a call is the not-very-low income homeowner that works full time but does not have any medical insurance and someone in the family has had an emergency or illness. All of a sudden the bills have piled so high that they are suffocating from debt. One or two home repairs become necessary and despair sets in. Hosanna has always tried to be a helping hand to the folks that would so appreciate a lift out of the pit a deteriorating home can be. We want the elderly widow to be able to stay in her home and be as proud of it as she was when she and her husband bought it so many years before when they were raising their family. We want the disabled veteran to be comfortable in the home that was purchased in the country that he or she so sacrificially defended. And when we take our Staff and Volunteers to a home we want to leave seeing not only a transformed home but a transformed heart; light in eyes that were dark with the weariness of poverty, hope in a heart that was broken from years of trying to keep ahead of the storm of futility and a renewed sense of purpose for the folks who have been paralyzed by depression. So, the calls come in the office. I conduct an interview and complete an application. Becky performs the inspection. If the request and circumstances are a good fit for Hosanna’s program, Becky schedules the project. Volunteers come and serve making it possible for Hosanna to stretch the donated dollar and continue driving the green trucks down the road to the next project.

-Amy Ed, Mission Worker

These are the kinds of miracles

09 June

At Hosanna Industries, our main goal is to provide low income individuals with suitable living environments. Whether that means something as simple as providing freshly painted walls or something as complex as a new roof, we do whatever we can to improve the qualities on the homes of low income families and individuals. Even though being able to have the ability to improve living conditions is a miracle in itself, what I consider to be one of the best parts about working at Hosanna Industries is seeing a client smile for the first time in several years; or being able to bathe with hot water instead of cold; to use a ramp instead of tripping down the stairs; to walk on a stable and flat floor surface without stumbling; to be able to sleep at night without the roof leaking above their heads. These are the kinds of miracles that I get the privilege of experiencing every time we complete a project for a client. These are the kinds of miracles that a lot of people don’t get the chance to witness, but I’m lucky to be able to have the opportunity to be a light of hope for an individual or family that didn’t think there was hope left to be had. These are the kinds of miracles that make working at Hosanna Industries an honor.

-Katie DeJournette, Mission Worker

My First Job

28 May

I will never forget the first time I was introduced to the mission workers of Hosanna Industries. My first job. A few friends of mine at Westminster College encouraged me to come out for a day to volunteer with Hosanna at the Goskowski household in Connoquenessing. Ted and his wife Pat lived in a modest brick home that was in need of a handicap accessible addition. Pat had become a quadriplegic from a horrible accident and Ted was her full time care giver.

I arrived at the project and learned that we would be installing decking and a handrail on the newly constructed ramp. I had the privilege of meeting Donn for the first time and worked with Brian Diggins, Mike Killian, Mark Williams, and Chris Weichman on that day. I had never been around a more electric group of men that loved The Lord, loved hard work, and had tons of fun doing it. I will never forget that day because it was the day I realized that The Lord led me to exactly where I was supposed to be.

-Brian Hetzer, Mission Worker

Hosanna: a hand that can open the doors to Hope in a person’s life

13 May

A part of the work that I enjoy the most at the mission is a bi-weekly practice I call speccing jobs. Its a time when I hop in a green truck, sometimes with another mission worker, and go out to visit with potential homeowners to determine if their situation/ conditions are a good match for receiving help from the mission. Recently while visiting one of many clients we have on a long waiting list, I experienced one of the rare times, in roughly 2000 visits, where I found myself caught up in the plight of this new friend.

“Mrs. Smith” was a divorced woman of 57 years old who was taking care of her 34 year old bi-polar son and her granddaughter. She was a polite and very receptive woman to the offer of our help in replacing her hot water tank. She described that its been tough taking sponge baths in the sink for the past 4 months with a wash cloth. This was a straight forward, “easy” spec I thought to myself as my mind was preoccupied with moving on to the next visit. We started filling out paperwork and I explained to her that due to our current schedule, help in this case should be coming in about three or four days. She described to me that it would be best to keep in touch as to when we would be arriving because she would be going into the hospital. In my hurriedness I said ok I will and could you please sign here and here.

I stood up, shook her hand, and started for the door while smiling and thanking her for the visit. I decided to ask her what she was going into the hospital for and this is when the real visit began. She calmly said she was diagnosed with cancer three days ago and had to get some more tests done. She now had my attention. Shame on me. I asked her what type of cancer it was and she said she had three baseball sized cysts in her abdomen and that it was Ovarian cancer. I tried harder than any of the other visits I have made in the past 19 years to maintain my composure, but I became almost overwhelmed with emotion and had to turn away for a moment. I cried. I had lost my mom to Ovarian cancer three years ago and it really hit home. Her spirit was broken but her strength to want to care for her kids was remarkable. She had gone without hot water for four months and just wanted to take a hot shower before her doctor’s visit the next day. I prayed with her and said I would be in touch. She had hot water that same night, on Ash Wednesday.

I was excited to share this story with the staff! I was excited to be in a position to help this child of God. I am proud to work at a mission that can bring this simple type of help immediately. We are fortunate to have relationships with businesses that are in a position to donate the materials to install it. This visit once again reminded me that poverty of spirit can hide its face and we really have to look hard for it sometimes. You see, this woman had an income of only $8,000 a year and her house was impeccable. This visit reminded me once again that the mission is a hand that can open the doors to Hope in a persons life.

-Brian Hetzer, mission worker

A Woman Crying “Hosanna!”

29 March

I recently spoke with a woman who has an adult daughter with profound Down’s syndrome. This woman has always stayed home to care for her daughter so never held a full time job. Recently, her husband passed away so the income that had been coming into the home has been cut by more than half. With the daughters disability and the woman’s social security and husband’s death benefit, the household will see about 1,000.00 per month, barely enough to provide the funds for bills and food and certainly not enough to pay for any home repairs. We will add her to our ever growing waiting list for a roof this spring.

-Amy Ed, mission worker