Wrapping Up the Year

2014 is almost over and we’ve accomplished a lot!

food!In the last year, Patchwork’s food pantry has given out almost 19.5 tons of food, providing food to 1885 individuals from 904 households. Each food order is meant to feed a household for 3-4 days, meaning that our pantry distributed approximately 20,000 individual meals. Our food pantry also distributed hundreds of pounds of pet food thanks to the Tuly Fund.

A total of 103 children and youth in grades 1-8 attended Arts & Smarts activities. A total of 131 days of activities were offered, resulting in 2154 individual afternoons of creativity, learning, and growth. During the after school portion of the year, average daily attendance was 17 children. Additional high schoolers received leadership training as they volunteered in P1120931the Arts & Smarts program. As a result of this programming, participants gained important skills for life and developed important relationships with supportive and caring adults.

We logged approximately 8300 instances of what we call “Neighborhood Hospitality”. This included cups of coffee, phone use, packs of diapers, visits to our small clothing bank, and referrals to other local agencies. It also included 1059 showers for individuals who, for various reasons, had no other access to shower facilities. This is about double the showers taken at Patchwork during the previous year. Sometimes, our hospitality is simply having a staff member able toP1120563 lend a respectful listening ear to hear our neighbors’ frustrations, anger, or celebrations.

We also provided meeting space for other organizations who, like us, are working to make a stronger, healthier, and more peaceful community. Our urban garden spaces provided pleasant and meditative green spaces for our neighborhood, a unique educational opportunity for children in our Arts & Smarts program, and fresh vegetables for any of our neighbors who cared to harvest them. Our Back to School Sale prepared nearly 200 children for a new year of school.

How are we able to do all this? Only through generous gifts from people like you. The largest portion of our funding every year comes from individuals like yourselves. Additional support comes from local congregations, local businesses and organizations, and local foundations.

This is a wonderful time of year during which so many people give so that others can have the food, shelter, love, care, P1110299respect, and opportunities that we all need and want. It’s easy to add Patchwork to your list of charitable giving. You can do so by:

  • dropping by and visiting with us in person (check ahead to make sure we’re open; we’re on reduced holiday hours),
  • sending a check in the mail (to: Patchwork Central, 100 Washington Ave., Evansville, IN 47713), or
  • giving online using the link on our website (www.patchwork.org).

Help us accomplish even more in 2015!

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Giving Thanks for Our Bounty

We always have a lot to be thankful for at Patchwork, but lately we’ve had some special celebrations.

The day before Thanksgiving, Darlene came in at the crack of dawn to bake breakfast casseroles for all of the morning’s visitors. “I’m grateful for everything I have,” she said. “I want to pay it forward.”

By the end of the morning, breakfast was gone andBreakfast bake numerous guests, volunteers, and staff had had a warm and filling meal. We’re grateful for Darlene and all of her generosity and hope it inspires others to “pay it forward” as well.

That morning was particularly busy as our guests came in to shower, to make phone calls, and to pick up some last minute food from our food pantry in preparation for Thanksgiving. Two mothers speaking mostly Spanish came for food and we worked to see that they were fed. A woman using sign language received food. Darlene was able to use her own sign language skills to converse with the woman.

I checked whether a man was eligible for a food order, and he was. “I’m gonna eat this week!” he said happily before telling me how grateful he is for the smiles he receives at Patchwork. “A smile means a lot to me,” he says. “Someone like me doesn’t always get a smile everywhere I go.”

The next week, it was the children’s turn to celebrate during our annual Arts & Smarts Christmas Party. It was a special day of caroling with friends from Aldersgate, making Party PeopleChristmas crafts with volunteers from Resurrection School, and sharing a feast provided by the staff of Unit 5100 at Deaconess Main Campus and the Muntzers.

As has been true for many years, the highlight of the afternoon was the opportunity for each child to “shop” for gifts for their families in our Christmas Store. The Store was made possible thanks to our Junior Leaders (grades 6-8), our High School Volunteers, and a grant from Youth Resources of Southwestern Indiana. The teens stocked the store during a grand pre-Thanksgiving discount store shopping spree.

At the Christmas Party, each child could chose at least three gifts for their loved ones and additional gifts if they’d had good attendance during the fall semester. A total of 46 children picked out gifts, including little brothers and sisters who are usually too young to come to the Arts & Smarts program and the high schoolers–once they’d helped the younger ones through the store.

Several children familiar with similar Christmastime stores doubling as PTA fundraisers at their schools were concerned that they wouldn’t be able shop for their families because they hadn’t brought any money. It was a gift to tell them that no money was needed. Once the gifts were chosen, they were wrapped and sent home. A grand time was had by all!

The Arts & Smarts Program will resume on Monday, January 5.

Thank you

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Our Fabulous Food Pantry

crab apple towerOften, volunteering in our food pantry is not glamorous. There is a lot of time spent waiting. Waiting, not knowing who woke up hungry today and will decide that they need help. Waiting, not knowing how many people will arrive in our food pantry with a voucher or when they will appear. Waiting, ready to help.

But then someone does arrive. It’s a family of one and then a family of five and a family of three in rapid succession. Food is bagged, carts filled, and the families leave, grateful for the help. Usage of our food pantry and all of the pantries in the Emergency Food Pantry Consortium is up in comparison to previous years.

Then there’s a knock at the back door and one of our volunteers is there with the latest food Darrelldelivery from Tri-State Food Bank. There is a burst of activity as the pickup truck is unloaded and the food is stored away safely. We’re grateful for our drivers’ dedication. They pick up our food on Mondays and Wednesdays, week after week, in rain and snow and ice and heat.

We’re losing a couple of our long-term delivery drivers: Darrell Megli and Bill Schmidt have both decided it’s time to retire. We are thankful for all their years of service (so many years that no one remembers exactly how many there have been). Luckily for us, there are new volunteers who have stepped up to take their places.

While a food voucher is required in order for someone to receive a full food order, there are some items available to anyone in need. We keep our bread rack and fresh produce area stocked for anyone to take what they can use.

Visitors can also request dog or cat food for their pets, thanks to the Tuly Fund which was created in memory of one of Patchwork’s beloved canine neighbors. The pet food!food makes it so our neighbors don’t have to choose between feeding their pets or feeding themselves. Additional donations of pet food or money are always welcome.

There are also pastries available if someone asks. Sometimes they’re perfect for special occasions, like last week when a woman came in and asked for a cake because it was her birthday. Shawn found an appropriate cake in the food pantry and presented it to the woman while singing happy birthday. The woman said she was going to take the cake home and would put 53 candles on it for herself.

 

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Traffic

It’s been a busy morning at Patchwork.

Last night there was a deluge in Evansville, complete with  strong winds, torrential rain, and storm warnings. As I open the doors, I hear one of our regulars comment, “It feels so good inside here.”

I talk to everyone as they sign up for showers and pick up soap, shampoo, and towels. One man borrows our hair dryer to dry his clothing. He’s sleeping outdoors in a tent, spent a miserable night dodging leaks, and is glad for Patchwork this morning. We chat about the weather.

A man who is new to Patchwork discovers that he can take a shower here and exclaims, “Hallelujah! Thank God for small favors!”

A couple people use the phone for important phone calls. Someone asks me to look up a phone number for him.

We brew the fifth pot of coffee of the morning as a list of nine people wait patiently for their turn in the shower.

Another man comes in to shave. I don’t recognize him right away and I ask, “Have you been here before?”

“Yes, I was here this summer with another guy–tall, skinny, grey hair. He’s the one who told me about this place.”

“Oh yeah, that sounds familiar,” I say.

He’s happy to have someone to talk to, and he tells me the story of his summer. He’s been homeless and has alternated between the shelters, the outdoors, the hospital, and (briefly) jail. He says he didn’t mind living outdoors during the summer, but now that it’s gotten rainy and colder he’s contemplating his options. He says that if he hadn’t been able to come to Patchwork this morning, he would have attempted to shave off three days of stubble on the banks of the Ohio River. He says it feels good to be clean-shaven again. He’s optimistic. He’s been waiting three years to get disability payments and anticipates that it shouldn’t be too much longer before they’ll come and he will be able to afford housing.

Another man wipes up counters and washes coffee cups in the kitchen. He noticed that our custodian wasn’t here today and he wants to help out. He was a child in Patchwork’s children’s program in the early 1980’s, and he remembers the time before the Washington Avenue Temple burned down. He has fond memories of Ruth Doyle and of Calvin Kimbrough playing guitar. “It’s always a pleasure to come back to Patchwork,” he says.

The next day, I’ve found an old photo album for him to look at.  He flips through the book: “There’s me on the swim team. There’s me in the spelling bee. I won it two years in a row. There’s my sister–there are more photos of her in here than there are of me!”

He tells Shawn that this is one of the best days he’s had in a while. He’s gotten to relive fond memories and he got some warm clothes out of our little clothing bank.

He shows the book to his friends who are sitting around a table, eating donuts, and drinking coffee. He tells them, “Too bad you didn’t come here as a kid. You could have done all this stuff, too!”

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Patchwork Art Additions

On Tuesday, October 28 at 5:00 pm, you’re invited to help us celebrate Patchwork’s impressive art collection.

Most notably, Patchwork has a new sign to mark the Meetinghouse at 100 Washington Avenue. Our old sign had begun to look dilapidated and it failed to really convey Patchwork’s character. Its replacement was the perfect project for this summer’s Sculpture Weeks. Over the course of two weeks, a group of youth and adults worked with visiting artist Rob Millard-Mendez to design and create a new and improved sign. They began with brainstorming, made design decisions, scaled a drawing up to full size, cut the backing, made ceramic parts, assembled everything, and painted.

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The result is a fun and colorful piece of art. The sign is in the shape of a giant hand to symbolize the fact that Patchwork is all about giving. Each finger tip is embellished with ceramic images that symbolize the things that Patchwork does in our community: the arts, gardening, worship, learning, and arms hugging a heart.

Patchwork’s name and address are spelled out in mismatched “ransom note” lettering with a colored rectangle behind each ceramic letter. The posts supporting the sign will be painted to look like pencils, symbolizing the learning that takes place at Patchwork. An idea to put a flower box at the bottom of the sign was transformed into creating permanent flowers using the burner grates from Patchwork’s historic old kitchen stove.

The Giraffe

On the 28th, we will dedicate the new sign and celebrate the other art that was created or refurbished this summer including The Giraffe, The Bike Rack, and Susan Fowler’s art to remember Art Garden Weeks. Please join us!

To learn more about our art, head over to our online art gallery. There you’ll also see updates including the name of last summer’s river sculpture and documentation of the Driftwood Orb as it became part of the soil over the course of two years.

If you enjoy art, please add our Holiday Sale to your calendar. It is coming up on Saturday, November 8 from 9:00 am-3:00 pm. We’ll have a unique mix of art by local artists. The children in Patchwork’s Art & Company have already begun creating nativity sets to sell at their art booth at the Holiday Sale.

holiday sale web ad

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The Reverend Nurse is In

Several years ago, John Rich began to think about what Jesus’ ministry would look like had Jesus lived today instead of 2000 years ago. John thought about all the healing that Jesus did and wondered what it would look like with our modern medicine. In thinking about it more, John felt called to live such a life, providing healing to both the body and the spirit by becoming a nurse as well as a minister.Health Minister John

Now he is ready to embark on a new project that embodies this vision: a Health Ministry at Patchwork. Activities will formally begin in January 2015, but planning has already begun.

The Health Ministry will offer a holistic approach to health and wellness for individuals and the community. It will provide classes, health screenings, support groups, healing rituals, health care advocacy, a small resource library, and personalized health/spiritual consulting. Clients’ health strengths will be just as important as their health needs. John hopes to capitalize on those strengths to create communities of healing. Neighbors will become health care providers for each other by sharing recipes, exercising together, giving emotional support, and helping each other navigate health care systems.

A few weeks ago, Darlene shared a story of what this looks like in practice. Over the past few years, Darlene has fought hard to become healthier and to stay out of a wheelchair, despite considerable John and Darlene HM picleg and foot pain. Recently her foot pain had grown so bad that she feared she would be forced into a wheelchair once more. One Sunday, John led a series of healing rituals as part of the Patchwork worship service and Darlene participated, asking John to pray for the healing of her feet. The next day, she went to a foot doctor who discovered that the pain was caused not by arthritis or neuropathy as another doctor had suspected, but by simple calluses which he was able to remove that day.

The pain was lifted, and Darlene felt the presence of God healing her in an unexpected way.

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A New Year After School

This place is happy,” a woman visiting Patchwork told me. “I sent my children here every day, and I KNEW they were safe. Now they’re in their 30’s and 40’s.”

P1170645A whole new group of children is finding that Patchwork is a safe and caring place for them as we begin a new school year in the Arts & Smarts program. Activities began on September 2 with tutoring for grades 1-5 and leadership training for grades 6 and up. The younger children in grades 2-5 will join the fun in arts and other activities starting on Tuesday, September 16.

There is already considerable demand for tutoring. One mother stopped in to register her child a few weeks before activities began.

“Last year it made such a difference,” she said. Her child began last year getting C’s, D’s, and an F but turned those grades into A’s and B’s and a place on the honor roll. “I give Dixie, her staff, and my mother the credit for that,” she said.

To keep up with the demand, Dixie would like more tutors, particularly for the popular time slots: 3:15-4:00 and 4:00-4:45 Monday through Thursday. P1170762You can volunteer for as little as one session once a week or you can come every day! Contact Dixie if you’re interested.

Meanwhile, the Junior Leaders and Teen Volunteers have been in training to learn how to be good leaders. Many of the Junior Leaders and Teen Volunteers have been part of our Arts & Smarts programming for years, beginning as participants in grades 2-5.

Leadership Team members are expected to:

  • Introduce themselves to the children and make them feel welcome
  • Be a good role model and respectful of others
  • Have an enthusiastic desire to work with children
  • Treat the children with respect and dignity and without discrimination
  • Be dependable, reliable and punctual with all the traits of a professional
  • Show positive behavior and attitude
  • Accept job responsibility
  • Serve as a positive role model at all times

P1180053And where might these Junior Leaders end up some day? A few weeks ago we had some work done on our fire alarm system. Part way through the job, one of the workmen came into the main office and introduced himself to Shawn.

“I’m Mathew. I used to come here when I was I kid,” he said.

Sure enough. Those of us who had been around the children’s program in the 2000’s recognized a kid who had been a Bike Club participant and an “I Am A Promise” singer.

Jane Vickers thinks he may be the first child to return as an adult workman fixing the building. I don’t think he will be the last.

 

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