A Busy Patchwork Afternoon

Right now, the kids are running around outdoors, enjoying a little sunshine and warmer temperatures. They’re skipping rope, throwing a Frisbee, and tossing a couple balls around. Last week, there was snow on the ground!

It’s the start of a busy afternoon in the Arts & Smarts children’s program. Dixie has 14 students scheduled for tutoring. It’s enough to fill up Book Cartthe tutoring room and require an additional table in the hall. Some are working on homework, some are working on skill-building lessons that Dixie makes available, and some are playing educational games. One girl is discussing the “baby orange” that was part of her snack and singing it a song before being re-directed to her homework.

Pat pulls out the beautiful, super durable, brand new book cart in preparation for Book Club. It arrived yesterday in a giant box that was a great plaything in itself. It’s a welcome replacement, funded by the Evansville Downtown Optimists, for our old, tired, broken book cart that had served us well for at least 15 years.

Elisa prepares the ceramics studio for the older kids who will be learning to throw clay on a potter’s wheel and to make artful ceramic coral pieces to add to our aquarium.

This month, the kids have also been busy learning from Hali, one of our interns, how to draw their hands using the blind Peyton's Handcontour technique in which the artist looks at his or her subject and not the paper. The kids had varying degrees of success in not looking at their paper, but all their drawings were interesting.

They’ve also been drawing trees by observing the trees growing around Patchwork. Actually looking at a live tree helped them focus on new details like the way each tree’s bark and branches look different from others. Their assignment from Hali was to find a place to sit where they could see a tree.

Jane overheard one little girl exclaim, “We found one! It’s big! But we’re going to SHRINK it!”

Her tree drawing was lovely.



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Here in the New Year

P1330620We’re barely two weeks into 2016, and already we’ve had more than our share of busy days. After a short break for Christmas and New Year, we were open and our programming was in full swing on Monday, January 4.

We’ve had a steady stream of guests in the mornings. Many have stopped in to say hello and pick up a food order from the food pantry. They are our neighbors living on limited incomes, so a few more days’ worth of food is helpful for them. To receive food, they must obtain a referral that certifies that it has been at least 30 days since their last food order. Patchwork isn’t officially a referral agency, but our office staff will write referrals if they aren’t too busy. This Tuesday we issued referrals for 13 households and checked the eligibility of 4-5 more. It made for a busy morning, but was a small way to accommodate the needs of our guests.

While they’re here for the food pantry, our guests look through our free items to see if P1330631there is something they could use, they drink a cup of coffee, and they visit with our staff and other guests.

Meanwhile, a group of homeless men drinks coffee, visits with one another, warms up from the cold, and takes showers. One man asks me if I can decipher a phone number on a piece of paper. The paper has gotten wet and dried, so the numbers are smudged and bleeding through. I can’t make sense of it, either. He’s living with his dog in a tent, and it turns out that the number is for a case worker at Aurora who is helping him find housing. With this new information, Shawn is happy to call on our friends at Aurora to get him in touch with his case worker.

It’s not officially a Health Ministry day, but two people ask Nurse John to check their blood pressures and one needs to have a wound on his forehead cleaned and re-dressed. Then Nurse John P1330650leaves to take someone to an appointment with a specialist.

In the afternoon, we switch gears as children fill the building. The tutoring carrels fill with students and their tutors. And our main room fills with the sound of children playing games, eating snacks, reading books during Book Club, and making art.

The children’s artwork will be featured at our annual Soup, Salad, & Style fundraiser at noon on Thursday, February 25. Reserve your place at the luncheon today! Tickets cost $45 per person and can be reserved by sending payment to us at Patchwork. Last year we sold out, so make your reservation early!

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Christmas Greetings

It is a gathering like billions of others that will take place across the globe over the next few days.

The smell of a well-cooked meal fills the kitchen. Friends and family gather round:

“Did you get breakfast yet?”

“Make sure you go to the kitchen to get some before it’s gone!”

“This tastes really good!”

They joke with each other, ask about those who are absent, ask about others’ recent travels, talk about their children’s memories of this same kitchen.

This Christmas gathering is taking place in Patchwork’s kitchen. The guests are our staff and volunteers and neighbors. Some are regulars. A couple are here for the first time. They are all grateful for a hot breakfast casserole cooked by Darlene with help from Nancy.


We are grateful for the warmth and generosity that fill our building.  We’ve received many special gifts over the last several weeks. Our Food Pantry has benefited from extra donations of food, and the shelves are well-stocked for the coming winter months. We’ve received extra donations of toiletries for our shower guests and pet food to share with hungry pets. And we’ve received financial gifts that will help us keep the lights on, the building warm, and the programs running.

Patchwork will be closed from December 24 through January 3. We will re-open (including our food pantry and children’s program) on Monday, January 4th.

Thank you again for your support! Merry Christmas! We’ll see you in the New Year!


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Christmas Giving


Advent 2015

Dear Patchwork Friends,

He is the opposite of a Christmas miracle.

He is surly. He is visibly very ill. He grumbles answers to questions when asked. He is in pain. He likely will not change.

John Rich sits next to him on the phone in Patchwork’s main office, working as the Health Minister to advocate for the man. This morning they’ve spent an hour at a doctor’s appointment, an hour speaking with representatives from health insurance companies, government agencies, and health care providers, and another hour simply on hold. It is a difficult and frustrating process, but John tries his best to bring some positive resolution so the man can receive the health care he needs.

The man does not radiate gratitude or hope or joy.

The man is a far cry from an innocent newborn in a stable in Bethlehem—loved and sung about by angels. Yet, we make a place for him here at Patchwork. A place that is safe and hospitable. Sometimes it is not easy to do.

The man is also a far cry from the adorable girl in Patchwork’s Arts & Smarts Program who loves the feel of flour on her hands as she mixes salt dough to sculpt a snowman. She holds her hands up to my camera and wriggles her flour-caked fingers. She notices flour flaking off her hands and onto the floor and gleefully observes, “Look, it’s snowing!”

She is happy. Her parents love her, and that’s why they bring her to Patchwork every week. We work hard to make a safe place for her, too.

Some days it is hard work, yet I do my part to create this safe space for everyone because I feel called to do so by the man that that baby in Bethlehem grew into—a man who changed the world.

I believe that the man who said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these,” is also the man who said, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, otherwise they may also invite you in return and that will be your repayment. But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

And so Patchwork is a place of hospitality and care for all.

Please help me continue to make it so.

Amy Rich

Patchwork depends on gifts from people like you in order to continue to provide our services to our community. Last year, 60% of our total income came from individuals, 5% came from businesses and organizations, and 9% came from congregations. Thirteen percent came from grants, 8% came from special events, 2% came from organizations who used our building space, and 3% came from interest earned by our endowment.

There are several, simple ways to make a year-end financial gift to Patchwork including:


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Thanksgiving Blessings

P1320520It’s Thanksgiving–the time to take stock of all that we’re thankful for. At Patchwork, it feels like a good time to reflect on all we’ve done in the past year of service to our neighbors and our community. We are thankful for everyone who has helped us to provide these services including our staff, our volunteers, and our funders. May the blessings continue into the new year!

Here’s what we’ve accomplished in a year:

The Patchwork Central Emergency Food Pantry – Our food pantry served 1776 individuals from 972 households by distributing almost 20 tons of food. Each food order includes 3-4 days’ worth of food per person, meaning we distributed approximately 21,000 meals-worth of food. Households must receive a referral in order to get food, and we issued 415 referrals at Patchwork rather than asking those in need to make an extra trip to another referral agency.

Arts & Smarts After School and Summer Children’s Programming – 116 children and youth in grades 1-8 attended at least one day of Arts & Smarts activities. A total of 130 days of activities were offered, resulting in 2492 individual afternoons of creativity, learning, and growth. Of these children, 82% belonged to low income families. Additional teen volunteers received leadership training as they volunteered in the Arts & Smarts program. Daily activities included one-on-one tutoring, visual arts experiences, gardening, cooking, robotics, leadership training, substance abuse prevention, and reading. Through these P1310519activities, children gained important skills for life and developed relationships with caring adults.

Neighborhood Hospitality – One service Patchwork provides to our neighbors is simply our presence in the neighborhood. We call it neighborhood hospitality. Last year, we logged approximately 7632 instances of hospitality. These include cups of coffee, phone use, visits to our small “clothing bank,” packs of diapers, bread, fresh vegetables, and referrals to other local agencies better equipped to assist the individual with his or her needs. It also included 1037 showers for individuals who, for various reasons, had no other access to shower facilities. Sometimes this hospitality is simply having a staff member able to lend a respectful listening ear to hear our neighbors’ frustrations, anger, or celebrations.

Bike Shop – Patchwork’s Bike Shop was reorganized by volunteer Pete Emery in May, 2015.The Bike Shop is open Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 8:30-noon. On average, 2-3 drop-in clients visited every day for repairs or to receive bikes. In the five months that the shop was open, we repaired and gave away 18 bikes to individuals who needed them for transportation. We also did numerous other repairs (both simple and complex) to bikes to return them to road-worthy condition.

Sozo Health Ministry – The Sozo Health Ministry began operating in January, 2015 to promote health and wholeness through weekly health screenings, education, advocacy, non-emergency medical transportation, and spiritual care. It is coordinated by Rev. John Rich, RN. In its first nine months, it provided 274 total health encounters
for 81 total P1310399clients. Total direct contact time was 327 hours. Services included 51 instances of transporting clients to medical appointments. They also included 11 occasions in which staff identified emergency health situations in clients, and 911 was called or the client was transported to an ER.

Building Use – Patchwork provides space for other organizations who, like us, are working to make a stronger, healthier, and more peaceful community. Many people pass through our building on a weekly or monthly basis to visit these organizations. Last year, these groups included: Narcotics Anonymous, the Blackford Grove Neighborhood Association, the Evansville Friends Meeting, and the River City Food Co-op.

Community Garden – Patchwork maintains an urban garden next to our building, and we have since 1995. Not only does the garden provide pleasant green space for our neighborhood, it serves as an educational tool to use with the children in our programs and it provides fresh vegetables for any of our neighbors who care to harvest its produce. Many are surprised to hear that they are welcome to take what they can use.

Worship – Patchwork holds weekly worship services on Sunday evenings at 5:15 pm. Services are ecumenical and completely volunteer-led. Worship has been important at Patchwork since its beginning as a neighborhood ministry in 1977.

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Kind Words

On Tuesday, BP1320186ill Hemminger provided a wonderful feast of bean soup and bread for the children in the Arts & Smarts Program. But it wasn’t just any bean soup and bread! It was soup prepared from beans that the children had harvested from our garden a few weeks before and bread that Bill made himself and baked in our outdoor bread oven. It was warm an comforting food–fitting for autumn and the upcoming season of thanksgiving and joy.

We hear many thank you’s at Patchwork. People are very grateful for the services they receive from us. It’s always good to hear, but equally encouraging is the gratitude from people who receive no services from Patchwork.

We received one such note in the mail this week that included the following
encouragement, “We are grateful to you for the work you’ve P1320504been doing in this community…the hundreds, probably thousands, of children and adults you’ve helped and enriched for so many decades.”

And, last weekend I learned a wonderful story about one family who makes art to sell at our Holiday Art Sale. The family is Indian and lives in India but has friends living in the Evansville area. The family in India makes beautiful, multi-colored socks. They make a living (in part) by sending their socks to their friends in the United States to sell. The family in India knows that Patchwork’s Holiday Art Sale is one place that their socks are sold, and they are very happy to know that 30% of all of their sock sales at the Holiday Art Sale are given to support Patchwork’s programming. They’re excited to be able to help out a great community organization a world away from their home!


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A Beautiful Day in Our Neighborhood

Patchwork has been out and about in our neighborhood, lately. It’s been particularly wonderful with all the new activity and businesses opening on Haynie’s Corner.

Un Birthday PartyLast Friday, our Junior Leaders (teens in middle school and high school) enjoyed a Team Outing on a beautiful autumn day in Haynie’s Corner. The outing was a reward for the Leadership Team’s good work over the last month serving as role models and assistants for the younger children in our Arts & Smarts program.

Officially, the outing was an Un-Birthday Party, since the day was everyone’s un-birthday. The group (all wearing silly hats, of course!) walked the block and a half to the Haynie’s Corner Fountain where we played games and exchanged un-birthday gifts. Then we enjoyed a picnic of appetizers from the Bokeh Lounge and an un-birthday cake baked by one of our volunteers.

The following Sunday, Patchwork was back at Haynie’s Corner for a bike ride organized by Pete, the bike guy, to raise awareness for Patchwork’s Bike Shop. A group of about 30 riders gathered for a trip down the Pigeon Creek Greenway Passage and back to the Bokeh Bike RideLounge for refreshment afterward. The bike ride also raised some funds for Patchwork’s Bike Shop so Pete can restock on tires, tubes, and (hopefully) some bike locks.

As busy as the Bike Shop has been, Pete definitely needs to restock. So far, we’ve given away 25 bikes and done numerous repairs. Pete averages 2-3 walk-in customers every morning that the bike shop is open in addition to his work rehabbing bikes to give out. Currently, he is  in need of used adult bikes and additional volunteers who are experienced in bike repair.

Coming up soon, you’ll have your own opportunity to explore our beautiful neighborhood and to support Patchwork. We’ll host our annual Holiday Art Sale on November 6 & 7. The Holiday Sale features 100% handmade artwork by local artists including the children in Patchwork’s Arts & Smarts program.

Holiday Art Sale art cOn November 6, you can visit our Sale from 6 pm-9 pm as part of First Friday in the Haynie’s Corner Arts District.
The sale continues from 9 am-2 pm on Saturday, November 7. During lunch on the 7th you can also visit the Empty Bowls fundraiser happening at Kirby’s. Admission to the Holiday Sale is free. 30% of all purchases will be given to Patchwork to support our programming.

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