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Positive feelings brewing for Sozo's coffee shop in Export

| Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013, 9:02 p.m.
(c) 2012 Lillian DeDomenic
Becky and Bill Snyder recently opened Sozo's Coffeehouse in Export. Lillian DeDomenic - For The Murrysville Star

Something's brewing at an Export coffee shop, and it's a lot more than lattes.

Sozo's, located at 5847 Washington Ave., is dedicated to creating a safe hangout for young people and a place that offers fellowship for those of all ages.

The couple behind the venture, Becky and Bill Snyder of Murrysville, opened Sozo's in June with the intent of creating a place that wouldn't cost teens anything and provided a positive environment.

“Everyone is welcome,” Becky Snyder said. “We have a game room for kids and food and fellowship for everyone. Usually, sometime during the evening, we share something from the Bible. We have a group of volunteers from local churches who come to help maintain a safe atmosphere.”

The coffee and snacks are served for free, and the place is more like a drop-in center, she said. Sozo's is open from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights.

The Snyders are founders of His Hand Extended Ministries, shortened to His HEM. The Christian nonprofit is close to 10 years old. His HEM also operates a thrift shop in the Mamont section of Export. That venture helps to benefit the community and now also supports the efforts of Sozo's.

“I guess our main purpose is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ in word and deed, and we hope to do that through our outreach to the community through thrift store and now at Sozo's coffeehouse,” Becky Snyder said.

Sozo's has been regularly attracting local teens. Among recent events were Christian music concerts, a fundraiser for a drug-abuse treatment center, Bible studies, a tea and dub step music.

“We are happy with the crowd we have now, but would love to see more kids come in,” she said.

Sozo's soon will begin holding a women's Christian meeting at 10 a.m. on the last Tuesday of each month. The event will feature speakers from various backgrounds. The event is open to all women in the community.

The Snyders said they are pleased with Sozo's progress, and they emphasize that they can't take all the credit for its success. They attribute that to volunteers who have stepped forward to work with them. Becky Snyder said they have “become dear friends.”

“This ministry could not exist without the help from friends and volunteers who have dedicated themselves to serve alongside us,” she said.

Julie E. Martin is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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