Tag Archives: Homewood

Why do you do this?

19 March

I like what I do. I enjoy the computer work that is necessary to keep Hosanna’s books in order. Writing and producing our quarterly newsletter is a nice change of pace. Dealing with insurance – well that’s just a necessary evil because of the times we live in. Helping out with our special events is fun. Seeking support from foundations so our mission workers can continue doing what they do is an honor and when successful is one of my greatest joys. And, of course, I work with some of the most remarkable people I’ve ever met. The work they do each day on behalf of others is nothing less than amazing. I love to hear their stories.

But, what I love most about my job is those rare occasions that I need to visit the people we help – whether it is to get a paper signed, to meet briefly with one of my colleagues on a jobsite or to lend a helping hand in one way or another.

Last Thursday I got to see some of my favorite people once again. In 2013 Hosanna Industries opened the Terrell Trade Skill Learning Center. This facility was named after one of the great supporters of our mission, Mary Jessica Terrell. She was there when Hosanna Industries was founded almost 25 years ago. She was part of many of our blitz-builds; as the furniture was moved in and curtains were hung Mary made sure the finishing touches were completed with precision, love and care. She served on our Board of Directors. Through our Traveling Teacups program she made sure our loneliest clients received cards and visits. Mary went to be with the Lord recently but while she was here with us she quietly changed lives though Hosanna Industries.

But, I digress. It’s been two years since we opened the Terrell Trade Skill Learning Center. We started then working with a group of young men from Homewood, one of the poorest, most derelict neighborhoods of Pittsburgh. These are tough guys. They have lived with pain and poverty surrounded by drugs and violence all their lives. But they have huge hearts.

I had the opportunity right before Christmas to call a meeting with the guys to tell them about the semester we planned to begin in January this year, renovating an abandoned house in their neighborhood. Every one I talked to expressed their gratitude. One guy, Rich, called me three times in two days to make sure everything was still a go. (They haven’t experienced much reliability and accountability in their lives). Their smiles, hugs, and kind words filled the room when we met. Later one of the guys told me that having another semester was the best Christmas present he got (they don’t have many opportunities to better themselves in Homewood). Last Thursday when I went to the jobsite I went to help get glasses for James. We had taken him to Bissell Eye Care in Gibsonia a while before for an eye exam and now needed to order glasses for him. It turns out I was there the day before his 34th birthday. When I had finished what I needed to do, I ran to Giant Eagle and grabbed some cupcakes. When I walked back into the house where the guys were working and handed James the cupcakes, he turned away from me. He pulled his shirt up to his face and scrubbed back and forth. He looked at me and said, “Why do you this, Miss Julie? Why do you do this for me?”

I didn’t tell James that day. I just smiled and gave him a hug. But I did this because it’s part of my job. I did this because everyone should be treated special on their birthday. I did this because it obviously wasn’t done enough in his lifetime. I did this because it was the right thing to do.

Whatever you do today, take a moment a make a difference for someone else. Give someone a reason to smile, a reason to believe in themselves, a reason to dream of a brighter future.

Julie Wettach, Mission Worker

Words From Their Mouths

21 March

The first semester of the Terrell Trade Skill Learning Center is coming to a close. We’ve poured our time, talent, and treasure into the lives of the young men attending this program. I had the immense privilege of participating in the end of the semester interviews of four of the young men. I’m not sure my words can adequately describe this moment in my life. You’d have to meet the men yourselves. You’d have to see them. Shake their hands. Hear the words from their mouths.

My background is so very different from theirs. They know the ghetto. They have experience with gangs. They understand life on the street. They know pain and suffering and poverty like I’ll never know.

Yet they yearn for more. They want a future. They want to better themselves. 23 year old Eric looks at two men aged 55 and 62. He says, “Where I come from you don’t see many men your age living… and doin’ good.”

And my mind reels… You don’t see many 60 year old men living? Where do you come from? Some third world country? No, I know you live half an hour from my own home. Where are your men? Where’s your dad? Who’s your role model? How are you going to learn to be a man? Who’s going to teach you to be a daddy to the baby you’re expecting in five short months?

And suddenly I know that I am incomprehensibly blessed. No matter what I struggle with today it is nothing compared to what these young men have experienced day in and day out all of their lives. And here they are. Putting their feet on the floor every morning. Deciding they want more. Not that they deserve more, not that they’ve even seen what “more” looks like, not that they know what this “more” is. But they want it. And they are learning to trust that we might be able to help them get there.

Mike, slouched in his seat with his hoodie pulled up, looking at the floor and fiddling with his feet, is really quite eloquent. He says it best. “When I first came here I couldn’t picture myself in an environment like this. I was angry. But I committed myself to being a part, to learn what I can, and not to distract others. I did what I said I would and I’ve come to like it. I have a feel for being here, for wanting to be here. I think the people here are good people. They make me feel welcome, a family feeling, you know what I mean? It makes me want to get up in the morning and come out here. You see our different backgrounds. You can’t really understand them, you know what I mean? But you work with us. Everyone’s patient.”

We’re throwing our heart and soul into these young lives and we might be the first people they’ve ever known to do that. But they’re doing even more. They’re learning to trust. The relationships they’ve known in the past haven’t helped them learn that. And once they dare to trust, their whole world will change. They will have the opportunity to learn and grow and dream of a bright future. They will have the chance to make something of themselves. They will be men. And their little boys will have role models worth looking up to.

Thank God for people with visions who are willing to step out in faith and act upon them.

-Julie Wettach, Mission Worker