Reflecting on the Summer

P1420991Last week we wrapped up another successful summer of children’s programming at Patchwork. As always, the summer was a family-like experience with multiple generations of people all participating together.  We had everyone from three-year-old Calvin participating in his fourth summer with us (yep, you read that right!) to 90-year-old Helen being introduced to the children of the children she used to teach here as a volunteer.

Thanks to our two Sculpture Weeks, we have some new sculptures in our Blackford’s Grove Forest at the corner of 6th and Blackford. Every participant had an opportunity to try welding, under the tutelage of this summer’s visiting sculptor Adam Rakestraw. The group worked together to design, fabricate, and install gates for the garden made from old bike parts and a one-of-a-kind bottle tree. In the process of installation, we used neon string to stabilize the piece as its concrete base dried. The group decided the string added to the piece, so we left it connected. Participants during Art Garden Week II created bottle tree jewelry to add to the tree as well. Stop by and check out our fun and quirky new art!

Dance Week was next up and was presented in collaboration with the Children’s Center for Dance Education. Dance WeekParticipants had a wonderful time jumping, moving, and dancing with Sadia. The week included learning Spanish dances, large and colorful streamers, and a Soul Train dance line for which everyone laughed and had fun.

Last week was Art Garden II. Susan Fowler was back to tell more stories from Indiana’s history in honor of the bicentennial (this was her 10th summer here!). We learned about Larry Bird and the history of women’s basketball and the Olympics and Abe Lincoln. In the studio, participants glazed the ceramic mushroom sculptures they’d created during Art GardeningGarden I. In the garden, they picked plums, blackberries, cucumbers, onions and zinnias. They also dug a bountiful harvest of potatoes. In the kitchen, they roasted the potatoes and onions, chopped up the plums and cucumbers, mixed up Jello and cookies, made cobblers, and scrambled fresh duck eggs.

Special thanks to the Arts Council of Southwestern Indiana, the Evansville Audubon Society, the Indiana Arts Commission, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Vanderburgh Community Foundation for providing special funding for our summer arts activities.

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A Group Effort

Business in Patchwork’s Food Pantry has been booming. In the first 6 months of 2016, we’re serving an average of almost 200 people per month. That’s up 35 people every month compared to 2015! That means we distribute a large quantity of food: an average of 1.6 tons per month! About 90% of that food comes from Tri-State Food Bank, our main P1370938supplier.

However, sometimes the Food Bank runs short on particular items that we include in every food order. Sometimes there isn’t the variety of food available from the Food Bank that we’d like to include in our food orders. And sometimes it’s simply good to get help to keep costs down for the Evansville Emergency Food Pantry Consortium that pays the Food Bank’s fees for the food our pantry receives.

That’s when it’s nice to get some help from our friends. We have a great group of congregations that have collected food for our food pantry for decades, and we’re grateful for their faithfulness. They know us and they know what we might need. Some ask each month what items we would like them to collect for the following month.

We have people who keep us stocked on eggs, since they’re on the list of items given as part of every food order but are rarely available through the Food Bank. Bill Hemminger brings us fresh produce from the garden he manages at the University of Evansville.

In May, we received 331 pounds of food from 8th graders from Thompkins Middle School. They collected food to win door prize tickets at their school dance and only got credit if the P1400906items they donated were on the list of items we include in every food order (no octopus parts or German sugar beet syrup).

Recently, we’ve added some friends of our dedicated food pantry volunteer Darlene. Darlene reports that one woman in particular is committed to filling the food pantry shelves. Darlene laughs because she knows that the food leaves as quickly as we can stock the shelves.

But we’re happy to see Darlene’s friend try her best to fill our shelves. It means many more people who need a little help feeding their families will go home with grocery sacks full of nutritious food.

Thank you again to everyone who donates food to our pantry and to all our dedicated food pantry volunteers!

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Life Is Connections

Patchwork is in the middle of our fabulous summer children’s activities. We started two P1380181weeks ago with Art Garden Week I. It’s our biggest week of the year, with over 25 children and 25 high schoolers and adults in attendance. Participants receive our unique mixture of experiences in the garden, in the art studio, and in the kitchen. They also experience Susan Fowler’s frenetic storytelling.

Susan is great at pointing out how everything and everyone is interconnected. Her mind links it all together. Her theme for the summer is the state of Indiana’s Bicentennial.

Susan and Connections: Work on Indiana’s constitution began exactly 200 years before our Art Garden Week I. The constitution was written in the shade of an elm tree in Corydon, Indiana.P1380163

Elm Tree: Ashton played this famous elm tree when Susan led the children in acting out the writing of the constitution.

Ash: Patchwork has an ash tree in its front lawn and now ash trees are being threatened by emerald ash borers. We love our tree and don’t want it to die.

Patchwork’s tree: Every day we ended our time together in the beautiful shade of Patchwork’s ash tree.

Walk to the Ohio RiverAt the end of the day: On Wednesday, a group of children and adults departed from our closing circle to walk all the way to the Ohio River to collect water and bring it back to Patchwork. It was part of an effort to raise awareness and funds for CoCoDA, an organization that helps residents of small villages in El Salvador gain access to drinking water. In areas where there is no nearby source of drinking water, children spend a large part of their day simply fetching water. It took us an hour. Find out more in this news story.

Water: Susan led us in discussions about water and the fact that it is essential for life. She suggested that perhaps she should not squirt everyone with her famous squirt bottle because it was wasting precious water.Clay mushrooms

Susan’s squirt bottle: Susan decided to give her squirt bottle to John H.  so he could squirt some water into everyone’s hands as a bit of refreshment. John was so excited to be able to squirt the bottle that he ran around the circle and sprayed everyone with a lot of water. Everyone was happy to get squirted and didn’t mind a little water being wasted.

Water not being wasted: We used the water we collected from the Ohio River to water plants in Patchwork’s garden. During Art Garden I, we transplanted flowering plants for the butterflies and vegetables for the children to eat. They need extra water.Cabbage to roast

Garden: In the studio, everyone made ceramic mushrooms that will become art for our gardens.

Garden Art/Art from the Garden: We also harvested garden produce, brought it into the kitchen, and turned it into beautiful snacks to eat together.

Time together: Any child can come to Art Garden Weeks. There is no charge, so money is not a barrier. It is only through many generous donations that we are able to do this. We are grateful that so many people see the value in these activities for children. Special thanks to the Arts Council of Southwestern Indiana for providing special funding for our summer arts activities.

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Saving a Life: Right Person, Right Place, Right Time

Every Monday, John and Mary make their rounds. They tell Patchwork’s visitors about Patchwork’s Sozo Health Ministry, they check many people’s blood pressures, they answer questions about prescribed medications, they take a look at wounds and listen to lists of symptoms in order to advice on whether something is serious enough for a visit to the doctor, they listen to everyone’s health concerns and frustrations, and they help connect people with the health care services that they need.

A couple weeks ago was a Monday like most others. John happened to introduce himself to P1370793a man who was visiting the food pantry. John asked the man if he was interested in getting his blood pressure checked.

The man replied that high blood pressure had never been a problem for him, but he accepted John’s offer. It was a very good thing that he did.

What John found was very concerning. The man’s blood pressure was dangerously high. John asked if he was having any additional symptoms, and the man replied that (now that he thought about it) he had been feeling an odd pressure on his chest whenever he walked anywhere. And there was a pain that would shoot down his arm.

John suggested that it was time to call an ambulance. The paramedics came and the man was taken to the hospital.

Later, John called the hospital to check on the man. It turned out that at least one of the man’s arteries had been clogged and the man had undergone emergency surgery for a stent to be placed.

The man reported to John that a doctor at the hospital had asked how the man had 13177320_10153604696701659_6352742594875479302_nrealized that he had a life-threatening condition that needed immediate medical attention.  The man responded that he was at Patchwork getting food from the food pantry and there was a nurse there who took his blood pressure and thought he should go to the hospital right away. That was a good nurse, the doctor said.

Thanks to the Sozo Health Ministry, the man’s life was saved.

It’s good to be the right person in the right place at the right time.

**And if you hadn’t heard, John Rich was named the 2016 Deaconess Nurse of the Year in the Community Service category. This was recognition, in part, of his work in the Sozo Health Ministry at Patchwork.

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The children’s program is on break and our building is open only in the mornings for the month of May, but that doesn’t mean we’re not busy at Patchwork. Every morning our building is full of visitors enjoying a cup of coffee, getting food from the food pantry, taking showers, using the phone, and visiting with all of us in the offices.

P1370944Our bike shop also continues to be in demand. Pete puts his Bike Shop time into three categories:

  1. Accepting used bikes from donors and refurbishing them to give out to new owners who need transportation.
  2. Repairing bikes for their existing owners who are reliant on them for transportation.
  3. Working with other groups to help build momentum for a central bike refurbishing center that would be a place for skilled volunteers to repair bikes and would then send these refurbished bikes to agencies like Patchwork who would then distribute the bikes to people who need them.

Pete says that in the year since the Bike Shop has reopened, his time spent helping bike owners keep their bikes working and on the street to use as reliable transportation has increased dramatically, slowing progress refurbishing bikes to give out to new owners and creating a waiting list of 5-6 people.

“Someone will come in and say, ‘I have to be at work at 2:00 and my bike doesn’t work,'” Pete says. “We stop what we’re doing and repair the guy’s bike. Tuesday morning there was a man here who had an 11:00 appointment for a second fitting for his dentures but his bike had a flat tire.”

Repairs range from adjusting breaks, adding new tubes, or even adding custom items like a rack. Thursday, Stephen was in the shop making final adjustments to a new rack on the back of his bike. “It looks simple,” he said, “But it’s invaluable to me. If I go to the store or something like that, I need it.”

I’ve seen bikes acquired through the Patchwork Bike Shop out on the road and in use in the neighborhood. Al and MidlerOne belongs to Al and his parrot Midler. It was a match made in heaven: an extra large bike was waiting in our storage area when the more than 6-foot-tall Al came in looking for transportation. The bike came with an electronic odometer and Pete challenged Al to keep track of how many miles our bike is able to carry him.

Pete says that almost everyone is courteous and very thankful for the service. Occasionally someone comes along who is angry or disagreeable, but even they come back the next day to apologize and explain that they had been under a lot of stress and were pressed for time.


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School Year Reflections

Every year, our Arts & Smarts staff and volunteers are privileged to be part of many, many children’s learning and growth. They experience moments, both momentous and small, that tell them that a child’s life is better for having been part of Patchwork’s Arts & Smarts Program and that the world is a better place because that child’s life is better.

The Arts & Smarts Program ended for the school year last Thursday, and this ending was a good occasion for us to reflect on a few of those moments:

  • A boy who Phyllis tutored insisted, “I CAN’T READ!” He spent months struggling with most words, but late this spring he was able to read a math problem. Then he looked at her with surprise and said, “I thought I couldn’t read!” Phyllis was so happy.
  • At the Year End Celebration, two boys received bicycles as prizes for most improved grades among all of the students 1038in the tutoring program. Dixie was so happy to see the excitement on their faces as they were recognized as the winners. For both of them, it was significant recognition of their hard work throughout the year. Dixie reflected, “It makes you feel good that they improved their grades so much.”
  • Fifth graders are officially “Junior Leaders in Training,” learning how to be good leaders and good examples for the younger children. This year included one boy who is in 5th grade and who has experienced a lot challenges in life. His mother has observed him taking on more responsibility at Patchwork this year. He’s also enjoyed making art and ceramics pieces–something he does more easily than his sister for whom many things come easily. Patchwork has given him the space to succeed.01 00
  • Staff observations about another boy and the value of positive relationships between adults and youth: When he knows other people believe in him, he does better. When he doesn’t believe he is a problem child, he does better.
  • One boy’s little voice excitedly ringing out over the crowd at the Year End Celebration with the words, “It’s me!” every time a photo of him appeared during the slide show.
  • Things I find laying on tables at Patchwork: A piece of notebook paper titled “The Story of Peyton.” Peyton came to Patchwork to learn to read. He learned really quickly. Peyton likes to play the math game. Peyton acts very silly sometimes. Miss Phyllis teaches me to read. Sometimes Peyton gets in the Treasure Box.

Our summer Arts & Smarts Children’s Programming is right around the corner. You’ll find the schedule below. Registration forms for children, high schoolers, and adults are available in our main office and on our website:

Please call our main office ((812) 424-2735) for additional information.

summer 2016 flyer color

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Patchwork’s Pancake Extravaganza


It’s time for our annual Pancake Extravaganza fundraiser!

2016 Pancake Breakfast image b

We’ll be serving up pancakes at Patchwork this Saturday, April 23 from 7:30 am-11:30 am. Tickets cost $6 for adults and $4 for children. All proceeds will be used to support our programming so we can continue to serve our neighborhood.

Breakfast treats include our crowd favorites: blueberry pancakes and cooked apples. There will also be regular pancakes, gluten free pancakes, sausage, fried apples, orange juice, and coffee.

Every year it is wonderful to see our guests turn our fundraiser into a neighborhood gathering by bringing their morning newspapers and meeting up with neighbors while we serve up the pancakes.

Guests will be able to purchase spring artwork created by the children in Art & Company. This year’s work includes garden markers and ceramic mushrooms. Art & Company gives children an opportunity to create art, to learn how to sell it, and then put these skills into practice. A portion of every Art & Company sale is used to pay the children a company “dividend” whose amount varies according to the child’s investment of time and good behavior into the company.

There are some wonderful pieces of art to be purchased. Come early to get the first pick!

After you enjoy your breakfast at Patchwork, be sure to check out the other big event happening in our neighborhood: Spring Funk in the City, the spring art festival happening only a block away at Haynie’s Corner.

It promises to be a lovely spring morning in the Haynie’s Corner Arts District!


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