Becky Hetzer and Katie DeJournette, workers for the nonprofit charitable construction organization Hosanna Industries, prepare to frame an addition to a family's home in Evans City.
EVANS CITY — A small house became a home for a family of five thanks to Hosanna Industries. Amanda Becker, a volunteer and member of a mainly female construction crew at the nonprofit charitable construction organization, said the family a few months ago called Hosanna Industries' offices in Rochester, Beaver County. The family, which includes a father, mother, young son and daughter as well as an infant daughter, said they were unable to enjoy meals together because their tiny Evans City home's lack of space caused items of daily living to be stored in the house's living space. “They didn't have a kitchen table,” Becker said. “The mother said she ate at the Fisher Price table with the children, and dad sat somewhere else.” After ensuring the family met the low-income and other requirements necessary to receive Hosanna's help, a crew set to work building a 12-foot-by-16-foot addition onto the home. Becker said the crew spent four or five days and $10,000 to $12,000. The family also received a kitchen table and chairs from Hosanna's furniture warehouse. “We made that house into a home,” Becker said. “It was always a shelter, but now it's good for their family.” Becker explained that in addition to expanding the house's square footage, much of the crew's time was spent helping the family organize and store their items. They also helped rearrange the family's sleeping quarters so the parents, son and daughters each had their own bedrooms. Before, the infant and parents slept in one bedroom, and the young son and daughter in the other. “The two girls now share a room where they can grow up together,” Becker said. She said Hosanna gets about 200 calls per week from families living in deteriorating homes. “There is a lot of poverty around here,” she said. The Rev. Donn Ed, executive director and founder of Hosanna Industries, served on the Evans City project's construction crew. He said in addition to expanding the small home's usable space, the crew also was able to help get the family back on track in terms of living life as a family under one roof. “The whole situation is better for that dear family,” Ed said. “They're good, hardworking people.” Ed said when Hosanna was founded in 1990 at Bakerstown Church just south of Middlesex Township, he had no idea the organization would grow to provide $50 million in charity services to the needy for just $14 million in money and donations and volunteer labor. “It's so gratifying to see the workers being so diligent in what they do, and businesses and churches supporting us (financially),” he said. Before a project is approved by Hosanna, Ed said certain criteria beyond financial need must be met. All work recipients must own the property where services are requested, and each house must undergo a pre-project inspection by Hosanna officials to determine whether “there is evidence of character that would not speak well of our work,” Ed said. “I entered a home one time that had inappropriate pictures on the wall, so I said 'This is not for us,'” Ed recalled. He said another worker went into a basement to do framing work and noticed hypodermic needles commonly used for illicit drugs. When the worker called Ed to tell him, Ed advised him to pack up his tools and leave. “We always hope and pray when we run into a situation, that if the hardship continues, the circumstances might change in a positive way so we can come back someday and be of some constructive help,” Ed said. “It's a tough issue for us.” Ed said Hosanna Industries' simple mission will remain the same: “Hosanna is about helping people who need help.”