by Paige Mitchell
For New Pittsburgh Courier

A place called hope was the old mission statement Hosanna House used to live by. And a place of hope, encouragement and support it truly was.

It all began 20 years ago when Leon E. Haynes saw the possibility of the future, and he has been changing lives ever since. Now celebrating their 20th year anniversary, Hosanna House has recently changed their mission statement to “The Mission is Possible.”

PROTECTED BY GOD—A reenactment of the story from the Bible where three believers in God were supposed to be burned alive but were not hurt by the flames because God protected them.

Hosanna House has given hope to the Wilkinsburg community, and has made a tremendous change over a short period of time. This place of hope has succeeded through many years, and now understands that no mission is impossible. “Nothing is impossible when you’re working with Jesus Christ,” said Randy Goodnight, youth staff director for the Hosanna House.

A summer camp has been one of the most effective programs there, and the finale production put on by the camp every summer is becoming more inspirational each time. The Christian camp for kids 5-13 get to engage in all sorts of activities on a daily basis. They visit different modules with instructors who teach Bible, arts and crafts, robotics, computers, tennis, swimming and science.

“They not only have fun playing games, but they engage in activities that expand their minds and learn. It’s a very healthy learning experience as a whole,” Goodnight said. He works all year inspiring young people to be better. He works with children and teenagers at the summer camp and after-school programs, encouraging others to be better emotionally and academically. “It’s all about the kids, and making their generation better. There is so much negative going on in the world that can easily distract our youth, but I’m here to show them a different path, ” he said. “Children are the future, and need hope to make it through today to get to see tomorrow. Hosanna House is exactly where we have been doing that, and making an impact in many lives and still more to come.”

The camp takes place every summer for nine weeks, from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Every Friday the campers go on field trips, traveling to museums, baseball games, Keystone State Park, the zoo, and Idlewild Park. The children are divided into groups by their age and gender. Every group of campers gets two counselors, who are the senior and junior counselors. The counselors engage in all the activities with the children so the campers are watched at all times. “Every year has been successful since I have worked here, and the most important aspect is that the kids leave happy with a smile on their faces, and will always carry a piece of you in their hearts because of the impact you made in their lives,” Goodnight said.

However, one particular part of summer camp that everyone looks forward to is the finale production that is put on for the parents on the last day of camp. Every week all the campers visit dance and drama class taught by Mrs. Max. She teaches the children modern dance, ballet and singing. The boys and girls take part in this, expanding their comfort zones to try new things, and learn new skills. The finale is a Hosanna House summer camp tradition and the show must go on every year. The children also look forward to the event. They work extremely hard all nine weeks so that the production is successful every year, and every production has been beyond that. “You will be amazed how talented these children are, they seem to shock me every time by how outstanding the performances are,” Leon Haynes said.

Every year the production is inspired by a new theme, and this year Mrs. Max choose to base the finale on the new Hosanna House mission statement, “The Mission is Possible.” The campers were in different scenes singing and dancing to gospel music, while others were more theatrical and acted out different scenes from the Bible. Everyone took part in the production, even the counselors got involved to make the play a huge success.

“This year I played in the Adam and Eve skit,” said Stephanie Mungin. “I was Eve, and it was fun because the kids seeing the counselors getting involved made them enjoy it more.”

“I wasn’t in the production, but I put together a slide show for the play and controlled the camera footage. I wanted to help any way I could.” Nick Jackson, the computer teacher, said.

“The production was wonderful, and it was great last year also! I love Hosanna House because it is a positive environment run by positive, hard working people, who really care about the kids,” Taniya Duncan, a parent, said. “I love how they keep the children busy. They have fun, and get to learn new things that will make them better people along the way. I especially love the counselors Nick Jackson, Paige Mitchell and Whitney Provianni and my daughter, Breyon, did, too. I feel safe with my daughter going here. She will definitely be back here next year.”

“I can’t wait to come back next summer! I had so much fun, I like Hosanna House,” said Breyon Duncan, 7.

The play was a success. Most importantly, the children were happy and walked away with memories they will carry for a lifetime.

“The mission truly is possible while having Jesus Christ on your side. It’s very important to remember that there is always someone looking up to you,” Goodnight said. “Be that positive role model. It only takes one to make a strong difference for many. Be that leader, not the follower.”

What better time to start making a positive influence in someone’s life than during their childhood. They will remember and cherish the moments they spent at Hosanna House forever.

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