Bike Recycling Returns to Patchwork

Quietly the bike room in Patchwork’s studio has been reorganized, tools found, and space cleared. Quietly we’ve begun to restore bikes to working order. Quietly a few have rolled out our doors with new owners who rely on them for transportation.

We’re excited to provide this service to the community once more. Our past experience shows us that our guests’ need for working bicycles is great and that the bikes are highly valued. For many, a bike is their primary transportation and they are no longer able to get around town when that bike breaks or gets stolen.

Coordinating the Bike Shop is Pete Emery (below, on left, with Steven). Pete has already put in many volunteer hours organizing the bike shop and the bike program. Slowly the word has spread that there’s a new bike guy and our guests have approached us for help.

Pete and Steven

Shawn tells this story about one recent bike recipient, “We gave out our second bike last week to an older gentleman named Charles. Charles comes to Patchwork from time to time and always tells me about his fishing experiences. He loves to fish and often rides his bike to his favorite fishing spot. His bike was recently stolen, and he was no longer able to get there because the walk was too far. Pete was able to fix up a bike for Charles. He was very grateful for the bike, and Pete told him anytime that he needed any maintenance done on it to be sure and stop by the bike shop.”

If you would like to support this program, the most helpful donations are money for bike tires and tubes and for utilities and other core expenses related to our studio/bike shop. We can accept a limited number of used bicycles. If you have a bike to donate, please call ahead to find out if we have space to accept it. Pete can also use help from Ben working on a bikevolunteers who are experienced in bike repair. The Patchwork Bike Shop is open most Tuesday and Thursday mornings, though that schedule is subject to change depending on our other programming. For more information or to contact Pete, please call our main office at 812-424-2735.

The history of Patchwork’s Bike Shop goes back to 2000 or 2001 when Rick Unger was a Mennonite Voluntary Service Worker here. Rick watched as a child who lived nearby tossed his bicycle into the dumpster because it was broken. It turned out that the bike only needed a minor repair, so Rick decided to start teaching children how to make their own bike repairs. Custom art bikes soon followed. Here’s a news report about our early bike shop:



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Patchwork Summer “is Better Than TV!”

Our summer Arts & Smarts children’s programming began last week with Art Garden Week I. A total of 32 children and 39 teen and adult volunteers participated in at least one day of Art Garden. Activities included:

  • Telling stories with Susan Fowler about Salad!monarch butterflies’ incredible annual migration from Mexico to Canada and back.
  • Making ceramic butterflies and milkweed seed balls with Elisa in the ceramics studio.
  • Planting a new butterfly garden with Bill and Pat to feed the monarchs visiting the Patchwork Garden.
  • Making snacks in the kitchen with Joni to feed the group using tasty plants from the garden.

Fun stories from the week:

  • Susan Fowler reported, “I’ve been milkweed happy. I have so many books at home because I’ve been looking up how many kinds of milkweed there are. Yesterday afternoon I visited the butterfly The path of the butterfliesgarden at the University of Evansville (where the new plants in Patchwork’s garden came from). I learned milkweed lessons from the biologist  who helped plant them. Now Patchwork has a monarch butterfly habitat in our garden!”
  • A group of 6th-11th grade boys making smoothies in the kitchen for snack. Their instructions were, “Just add a little bit of this and and little bit of that.” They did just as they were told and did it with confidence. In went whole baby carrots, kale, beet greens (which added natural red color), apples, orange juice, and blueberries. The results tasted great!
  • Joni observed, “We try a newSusan and Jennifer thing in the kitchen every year. This year it was beet
    chips.” Beet chips are made by slicing beets thinly and baking them till they’re crisp. One volunteer observed, “Most kids wanted seconds on them.” Another volunteer said, “One kid at my table tried one, then thought about it. I told her to try a second, and she did and decided they were OK.”
  • One volunteer said, “I like that adults at Patchwork don’t get impatient. They let the kids be themselves here, unlike some other places.”
  • A general observation from volunteers and staff: Art Garden Week is multi-generational. the Patchwork gardenParticipants range in age from 2 through their 70’s. Each group includes some younger children, some older children, and some adults. The big kids can have fun being like little kids. There are people from different backgrounds, and different languages are being spoken. It makes it a really special time.
  • As one child observed this week as she created things at Patchwork, “This is better than TV!”

Art Garden I memory sketch

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Bursting at the Seams

Next week at Patchwork, the pace will pick up dramatically. We’ll be back to full days of programming with the first Art Garden Week filling the building each day with around 50 children, teens, and adult volunteers. The joy, activity, and fun will be too much for the Meetinghouse to contain, and everyone will spill out into the garden, the studio, and the grounds. It’s always one of my absolute favorite times at Patchwork.

All summer our food P1230648pantry will continue to serve families–their children at home for the summer. As the weather warms, our showers will stay busy as everyone values an opportunity to cool off, wash away the sweat, and get clean. And even in warm weather, we’ll serve up lots of coffee as people gather for our hospitality.

Of course, none of this will happen without the generosity of our supporters and their donations of money, time, and items that we need. Recently we’ve had some special gifts that will help us better serve our clients and that brightened the days of our staff and volunteers (and some days after we’ve dealt with particularly sobering situations that’s a big deal).

Special things happening recently at Patchwork:

  • The medical suppliers who donated all the medical supplies on John’s Health Ministry wishlist–even when another donor was willing to purchase the supplies himself to donate to us.
  • The anonymous donor who orders supplies for our hospitality program so just what we need is delivered just when we need it.
  • The grandmother who gives us $5 every so often–which is a lot for her–because she appreciates everything that we do for the neighborhood.
  • The new volunteer who is working to reorganize the Bike Shop so we can provide people with transportation once more.
  • The gardeners who have quietly filled the garden with plants and who have created a new butterfly garden to use to educate the children this summer.

We’ve also received a special challenge from a donor: make a special donation to Patchwork this month and your gift will be matched dollar-for-dollar for up to $1000! This P1230667gift comes at a good time. During the summer, donations tend to slow but we’re still busy providing services. If you’d like to contribute toward this matching gift, send us a check marked “challenge gift” or give online through the link on our website

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2015 Arts & Smarts Year End Celebration

On Thursday, April 30, we celebrated another successful year in the Arts & Smarts program. Over 100 people filled Patchwork’s Meetinghouse to celebrate the children’s accomplishments, to thank our Arts & Smarts volunteers and staff, to reflect on the year’s successes, and to share a picnic supper. We also debuted the latest stop motion video created in the Arts & Smarts program. Here it is:

It was a wonderful celebration of a fantastic program. Below are thoughts about our after school program from a variety of people involved in it.



From a parent: “Patchwork welcomes children and sets a tone of structure, fun, and education.”

From Mandy, a tutor who is also a Signature School student: “I have had a blast helping the kids at Patchwork for the past few years. As a kid, I always had my brother to help me with my homework and I realize not every kid has that opportunity and I am glad I have P1230534b Jasminegotten to play that role that was so important in my life for other children. School and education is one of the most important things in people’s lives and getting to work with such a close-knit group of people who only want to assist in the education process and experience has been a blessing in my life.”

From Meschac, who has brought us international student volunteers all year through the International Community Service program at the University of Southern Indiana: “Everyone who comes here says they want to go back home and start their own Patchwork.”

From a parent: “Grades improved tremendously!”

From a parent: “Patchwork encourages the children, makes them feel like part of a group, and gives them a safe place to express themselves.”

From Meryem, a tutor who is also a Signature School student: “I have volunteered at Patchwork for two years. Tutoring at Patchwork is a unique experience, because helping P1230532 Ashleystudents learn is just as important as building a relationship with them and understanding their backgrounds. During this time, I have also come to realize how complex the process of teaching is and that it requires much more than simply explaining concepts. I like to think that as I helped students with schoolwork, my own teaching skills also improved.”

From a parent: “Patchwork is doing it best and has done it best with every child that I have seen come into Patchwork every evening.”

Our summer children’s activities will begin on June 1. All registration forms are available in our main office and will soon be available on our website: The summer schedule is:

Art Garden Week I

  • June 1-4, 9:30 am-11:45 amP1230541b
  • for children going into 2nd grade & up
  • Garden! Make art! Do storytelling! Make (and eat!) snacks!

Sculpture Week with Rob

  • June 8-11, 9:30 am-11:30 am
  • for youth ages 11 & up
  • Create sculptures with Rob Millard-Mendez, a sculpture professor at USI!

Dance Week

  • June 15-18, 9:30 am-11:30 am
  • for children going into 2nd grade & up
  • Learn creative and fun ways to move and dance
  • presented in collaboration with Children’s Center for Dance Education!

Sculpture Fun with Jane & Amy

  • July 13-16, 9:30 am-11:30 am
  • for youth ages 11 & up
  • Work on sculptures old and new with our very own Jane Vickers & Amy Rich!

Art Garden Week II

  • July 20-23, 9:30 am-11:45 am
  • for children going into 2nd grade & up
  • Round two of gardening, art, storytelling, and snacks!

Garden Feast

  • July 23, 5:00 pm-7:00 pm
  • for EVERYONE! Come celebrate the summer with us!

Parents, guardians, and teens are welcome to attend Arts & Smarts programming with children, but they must complete the appropriate volunteer applications and background check.


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Celebrating Victories Regardless of their Size

P1220831At Patchwork, it’s as much about the small victories as the larger ones. Take yesterday morning, for example. It was full of important, yet small victories.

A man in his 40’s sat at a table with his laptop. He took a shower earlier and then used our WiFi to complete his online coursework. He’s working toward a college degree and told Shawn he’s glad he can get internet access at Patchwork.

An intern hung a men’s clothing donation in our small clothing bank. In the process, she found a shirt to fit one of our morning regulars. That may not sound like a big deal to you, but to this man it was. He was very grateful. The day before, Shawn had asked him if he wanted to take a shower, but he declined because he didn’t have a clean change of clothes to wear.

John was here working in his role as Co-Executive Director, but spent at least as much time acting as Health Minister (he’s officially only the Health Minister on Monday mornings and by appointment). Several of the people John has been assisting stopped in Welcometo follow up with him about their health conditions. Many people have blood pressure issues, so they ask John to monitor their blood pressure every day that he is here.

There was also a man who had come to Patchwork on Monday and reported symptoms and a health history that John knew could and should be treated immediately with a simple prescription. The man is homeless, doesn’t have an ID, and doesn’t have any kind
of health insurance. The man had already called multiple health care providers in order to get an appointment and be treated, but none would help him. John called the same providers and got the same answer.

Yesterday, John tried one clinic again. He told the nurse practitioner about the situation: John’s health assessment of the man, the medical condition that John suspected but could not officially diagnose, the fact that no other clinic would see the man, and John’s assurances that it shouldn’t take long for the nurse practitioner to see the man, do her own assessment, and issue a prescription.

Only with John’s advocacy did the nurse practitioner agree to squeeze an appointment into her schedule that afternoon. John drove the man to his appointment, the man’s health needs were met, and the nurse practitioner agreed to take him on as a new patient.

We’ll be celebrating much bigger and flashier victories next week at our Arts & Smarts Year End Celebration. The Celebration will take place from 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm on P1220760Thursday, April 30.

The evening will include awards for the children, appreciation for our volunteers, photos from the year, world premiers of our animation projects, and an exhibit of the children’s artwork. Who’s invited? All of this year’s participants, their families, all of our Arts & Smarts volunteers, their families, and other friends of Patchwork!

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Parrots, Painting, and Pancakes at Patchwork

When we open the doors for the morning at Patchwork, there is no way to know what the day will bring.

Yesterday it was an Amazon parrot named Midler who was riding in a fancy parrot carrying case. Her owner needed help with his water bill and was relatively new to Evansville, so he didn’t know where else to go. We all chatted and admired the bird while Shawn made some phone calls to locate some help. The man’s sister had gotten him the bird as a therapy animal. Beyond being the man’s companion, Midler is trained to alert him when it’s time to take his medication. He brought Midler out of her carrier so we could get a better look and he showed us a couple of her tricks. He left Patchwork with some leads on assistance with his water bill and having had a friendly conversation with people who cared. We got to meet an interesting individual and his parrot.


Today, the children in Arts & Smarts got to try a whole smorgasbord of activities. They listened to Michael Carron talk about his photography which is currently on display at Patchwork. They got to try building and driving robots. They got to draw. They got to paint garden markers to sell this Saturday at Patchwork’s Pancake Extravaganza. And all the while, children were coming and going to and from tutoring. Reflecting on her time at Patchwork, one of our interns recently said, “I feel like a kid again when I come here.” The fun is infectious.


You can help support Patchwork this Saturday, April 11 at our annual Pancake Extravaganza. From 7:30 am-11:30 am, we’ll be serving all-you-can-eat pancakes plus sausage, cooked apples, juice and great coffee. Tickets cost $6 for adults and $4 for children. It’s always a wonderful morning of leisurely breakfast with neighbors in our welcoming room. Come join us!


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Sozo Health Ministry

Monday mornings are generally busy at Patchwork. Now they’re even more so as Nurse John makes his rounds, catching up with people who are already clients of his Sozo Health Ministry and introducing himself to others who are hearing about it for the first time.

The Sozo Health Ministry (Sozo is a New Testament Greek word Health 02meaning both “to heal” and “to save”) has been in operation for less than three months, but in that time John has seen a significant need for its services. He’s met with over 40 individuals on over 70 occasions.

He’s done basic health screenings, he’s listened to individuals’ health concerns and educated them about their conditions, he’s referred them to other health care providers, he’s provided transportation so individuals can get to doctor’s appointments and the pharmacy, he’s accompanied individuals into doctor’s appointments and acted as their health advocate, he’s visited with and advocated for a client in the hospital, he’s prayed with clients who’ve asked for prayer, and he’s taught the children in Arts & Smarts how laughter makes you healthy.

Several Health Ministry clients are already seeing improved health outcomes and a better sense of holistic well-being, and several have been appreciative of having a health care professional who combines spiritual health care with physical and mental health care. John has had a medical provider refer a patient to him for Health MinistryHealth 03 services. To date, Sozo Health Ministry activities have resulted in over 60 instances of cost savings for other community health care organizations (i.e.: John’s early and simple interventions meant that conditions didn’t worsen and didn’t require more expensive interventions later).

While John’s interactions with his clients are confidential, all of us around Patchwork can see the impact that his care has had on the individuals with whom he’s meeting. Shawn tells the following story as an illustration:

“A gentleman came into my office today.  He discussed his health issues and also some spiritual concerns he’d been having.  I immediately thought of John and our new health ministry.  I was able to introduce the man to John, and John spoke privately with him for a while. Afterward, the man told me that God had sent him to Patchwork today and that God was surrounding him with good people.  He said that today was the best day he’d had in a long time.  He thanked me over and over and told me he had shed a few tears while speaking with John, but he said tears can cleanse the soul. He said, ‘I may have made some mistakes in my life, but I’ve got a good heart, and when I get some money I want to give it to you all because I know you would use it to help people, especially the kids.’ As he left the building, he looked at me with tears in his eyes and shouted ‘I feel Happy!’  As he made his way down the sidewalk he continued to shout, ‘I feel Happy, I feel SO happy!!!'”

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