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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A Gathering of Old Friends in the Patchwork Office

P1360917Patchwork’s main office is a good place to be.

Someone is always there to chat or to listen. There are other people there who know how you feel. Maybe they’ve been there themselves. At any point in the day, you may find a varied and interesting collection of characters.

Today it was Dee talking with Clyde, James, and Leonard. Tomorrow it may be Al and his parrot Midler. Or Scott. Or Carol. Or any one of our other regulars. Or someone completely new.

A few days ago, it was a man, his wife, their four-year-old child, and their case worker. The man had just been hired and was excited about his new job. It would be a good one, paying $10.50 an hour. It would help his family get back on their feet. The only catch was that he couldn’t get there by bus.

Somehow they all found their way to Patchwork and the man learned about our Bike ReCycle program. He’ll be in on Thursday to get a bike to transport him to his new job. His one request: something with really good tires–he’s got a long way to go. Pete will be happy to help.

Pete was also happy to help Al and Midler the bird with a bike last week. Al only recently realized that Patchwork has a bike program, though he’s one of our more regular visitors. P1360577Luckily, Pete had just the bike for him: one with an unusually tall frame that was perfect for someone well over six feet tall. Now Midler can get around in style!

Then there was a morning a few weeks ago when Shawn and Darlene were treated to a piano recital. Shawn says:

I love mornings when something beautiful and unexpected happens. A young homeless man, who’s new to the area, has been coming in to Patchwork for a couple of weeks. We’ve been able to help him get food and Pete was able to restore a donated bike to give him to use for transportation.

This morning he asked if he could play the piano. He proceeded to play, and we all stopped in our tracks. It was absolutely beautiful!!! He played a classical piece, then a jazz piece, and ended with a beautiful rendition of Amazing Grace. When he left he told me he hadn’t played in a long time and he had been going through some dark times, but today after playing for us he felt hopeful and renewed.

He thanked me over and over…..all the while I’m thinking, no, seriously, Thank You!

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Art Blooms at Patchwork

Every afternoon of children’s programming at Patchwork involves a wide variety of activity throughout our building. It’s kids and adults working together in tutoring, preparing snacks, reading books, playing outdoors, or sharing the things that each one is excited about. It’s wonderfully warm, caring, and active.

Lately, we’ve had some especially great art happening as well. We’ve had guest art instructors leading projects on tie dye and printmaking techniques. The kids continue to make large paintings on easels using tempura paint and painting whatever subjects strike their fancy. They’re creating garden markers from clay in the studio. They’re making oil paintings by drawing a landscape using oil pastels then using a wash of paint thinner to help the colors blend like paint. And just before spring break they created a giant masterpiece in chalk on Patchwork’s front sidewalk: Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.” To create it, they used the classic “grid method.” They took a small image from a calendar and divided it into smaller squares then recreated the small squares on a much larger scale. In our case, the squares of the concrete sidewalk worked perfectly as the larger grid!

You can see a selection of the kids’ artwork on display at the Arts Council of Southwestern Indiana’s gallery for the remainder of March. If you want to purchase your own piece of these great artists’ work, come to Patchwork’s Pancake Extravaganza on Saturday, April 23 from 7:30 am-11:30 am. The kids in Art & Company will be selling their garden markers and other spring-themed art. (Breakfast is $6 for adults and $4 for children and proceeds benefit Patchwork.)

Here’s an online gallery of the kids’ latest creations. Click on any image for a closer look!

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Sozo Health Ministry Recognized

Sozo Health Ministry Award

Yesterday evening, the Sozo Health Ministry was recognized at Leadership Evansville’s annual Celebration of Leadership. Sozo was the Project Award winner in the Health and Social Service category.

It is nice recognition for the work that the health ministry is doing at Patchwork with the leadership of Rev. John Rich, RN and with assistance from Mary Damm, RN. John and/or
Mary are at Patchwork every Monday morning from 9:00 am-Noon to speak with anyone who decides to stop by, to answer medical questions, to dispense basic medical supplies and over-the-counter medications, and to check blood pressures. Additionally, John spends much of the rest of the week transporting people to various appointments and advocating for patients during these appointments.

To get an idea of the impact, you can look at the numbers served so far in the first two months of 2016:

  • Total Health Encounters: 83
  • Transportation: 24
  • Blood Pressure Checks: 34
  • Administering/dispensing medical supplies: 10

You can also get a sense of the impact from these recent stories:

  • In addition to caring for his clients’ physical well being, John offers spiritual counsel and healing. In one case, a client talked with John at length about her health issues. She had physical/medical issues, mental health issues, relationship issues, and P1350730spiritual issues. All of these issues were interconnected. John gave nursing advice, offered bandages for a wound and cold medicine for her sniffles. But he also provided pastoral care and prayed with her. At the last minute, John felt moved to perform an anointing, an ancient spiritual healing ritual. Later, both John and the client said to each other that they felt a tingling during the ritual and a strong sense of peace. They both agreed that the Spirit was moving in that anointing.
  • John is working with a client who sees multiple specialists. One specialist wanted to prescribe a medication, but the computer flagged the medicine because it has a potential to interact with a medication prescribed by a different specialist. If this first medication were not an option for the client, the next step would be an invasive procedure. John was able to facilitate communication between the specialists. They discovered that if the dosages were adjusted, both medicines could be given to the patient safely and effectively. Without John’s advocacy, this patient may have had to undergo an unnecessarily risky procedure.


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Snow Day at the Patchwork Coffee House

A week ago Monday, we shouldn’t have been open. And yet we were.

School was cancelled because of snow that fell the day before, which meant our food pantry and children’s program were closed for the day. But roads near Patchwork were clear and quite driveable.

I knew many of our regulars would not have seen the school closings on TV or the radio. I P1340863figured that most of them would look outside and think things didn’t look too bad, and they would make the trek to Patchwork. I knew I could easily get to Patchwork, so I did.

Several people were waiting in the cold, so I let them in. Many took showers. Everyone had at least one cup of coffee. James, a volunteer, stopped by in case we were open. He helped me make pot after pot of coffee. Our guests sat in the kitchen and at tables and visited with one another. At the Patchwork Coffee House, the coffee is always brewed but never to perfection, the pastries are always a little stale, but the company is good. And it’s free.

A man needed help completing an online health survey, so I helped him. A woman walked in to look through the free items we had out. “Other places are closed!” she said with surprise. A woman whose water heater is broken stopped by to take a warm shower. A homeless man found the perfect belt among our free clothing to squeeze his rolling suitcase closed. He’d worn out two of the suitcase’s wheels and was trying to roll it upside down to make use of the remaining two.

I got a call. “I’m on the road. Are you open?”

“Our food pantry is closed P1340964and so is our children’s program. We’re only open for coffee and showers. What do you need?”

“Oh. Just some coffee.”

A man comes in with his friend. Fifteen years ago I taught him in the Arts & Smarts program when he was a child and I was working as a Mennonite Voluntary Service worker.

He and his siblings are included in a photograph on the wall. He shows it to his friend, smiling. “We used to come here. There’s my brother before he went bald.”

Many people give me sincere thanks as they are leaving.

“Thanks for having us!” one man says.

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