Johnstown Native Volunteers in Haiti
By Suzanne Grove
The Johnstown Tomahawks Charity Classic promises to be a thrilling event for any hockey fan, especially one like Jocelyn Lonsinger. After all, the native of Johnstown is a long-time, enthusiastic fan of the sport who lists the North American Hockey League’s Tomahawks and the National Hockey League’s Pittsburgh Penguins as two of her favorite teams.
What better way for her to spend a Wednesday evening in January than watching her hometown Hawks take the ice with nine professional players who were on Pittsburgh’s roster last season?
But Lonsinger won’t be in attendance at the War Memorial Arena on Wednesday, January 9 when Marc Andre–Fleury, Brooks Orpik, and Jordan Staal, among others, play side-by-side with Johnstown’s team in a game that will benefit the Pittsburgh Kids Foundation–Haiti and the Johnstown Tomahawks Foundation.
Instead, Lonsinger, a 20-year-old Family and Consumer Science Education major at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, will have already been in Haiti’s capital city, Port–au–Prince, for five days. While the two teams are lacing up their skates to help raise funds for Haitian orphans and families through the Pittsburgh Kids Foundation, Lonsinger will be in the country providing hands–on assistance.
“I was obviously disappointed when I learned about the game and knew I couldn’t attend,” she said. “I’m a huge Tomahawks and Pens fan; we pretty much live hockey in my house. I’m sad to miss it, but it’s good to know they’ll be here earning money, and I’ll be there doing the work.”
While Lonsinger will miss out on the event in Johnstown, she’s excited to volunteer her time with AWAKENHAITI, an organization founded in Carlisle, PA in 2010 with the mission to break the cycle of poverty through providing aid to orphans and the poor of Haiti and to encourage spiritual transformation by bringing together diverse cultures.
Lonsinger said she will be stationed at an orphanage doing construction and working with children for one week. The mission trip will serve as her first time in the country.
“I like being able to help those who are less fortunate,” she said. “We take so many things for granted here. For example, they don’t have the clean water and food we have. Just because of transportation difficulties, it can take 40 minutes to travel seven miles.”
Still, Lonsinger is pleased the city of Johnstown and surrounding communities will have the opportunity to see NHL players in Johnstown.
“I think it’s great that the Tomahawks are bringing something like this to the area,” said Lonsinger, who names Cody Boyd, Matt Cooke, and Chris Kunitz as favorite players whom she’ll miss seeing the most.