Happy Birthday, Patchwork!

Posted on Posted in Arts & Smarts, Bike ReCycle, Food Pantry, Garden, Health Ministry, Hospitality, Worship

In October, Patchwork Central turned 43! This is something to celebrate, especially in the middle of a pandemic and with so much uncertainty in the world. We plan to be here for many years to come, participating in our neighborhood and listening for ways that our skills and interests can be of assistance to our neighbors.

We continue to be a place where many different people can come together and find respect, safety, and support. Below is a list of our core programming and the numbers of people served by each program during our most recently completed fiscal year. All of our programming was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the numbers served were reduced as a result. After having a typical first six months of the fiscal year, all of our programming shut down temporarily mid-March while we assessed safety concerns.

Programming was gradually re-started as we were able to adjust for increased social distancing, mask-wearing, and ventilation. Our Food Pantry re-opened in early April, our Arts & Smarts Children’s Program re-opened in June, our Neighborhood Hospitality and Sozo Health Ministry re-opened in July, and our Bike Shop re-opened in September. All are now operating following new safety protocols, and capacity has been reduced.

The Patchwork Central Emergency Food Pantry – From October 2019 through September 2020, our food pantry served 1418 individuals from 856 households by distributing over 15.6 tons of food. The Pantry is open Monday-Thursday mornings and is one of seven that make up Evansville’s Emergency Food Pantry Consortium. Individuals are eligible for a food order every 30 days and must obtain a food referral from a referral agency before they receive food from the pantry. Last year our main office wrote referrals for 786 households at Patchwork, rather than asking those in need to make an extra trip to another agency. Each food order includes 3-4 days’ worth of food, meaning we distributed approximately 17,000 meals-worth of food. We provided 139 can openers for individuals who would not have been able to utilize their food without one. Our food pantry also distributed 627 pounds of pet food from the Tuly Fund so recipients would not have to choose between feeding themselves or their pets.

Arts & Smarts After School and Summer Children’s Programming – From September 2019 through March 2020, 37 children and youth in grades K-8 attended at least one day of Arts & Smarts activities. A total of 86 days of activities were offered in that time, resulting in 1080 individual afternoons of creativity, learning, and growth. During the school year, average daily attendance was 10 children. Of those children, 100% belonged to low income families. Eighteen families (31 individual children) participated in at least one Arts & Smarts summer activity in June-July, 2020. For the summer, we combined four take-home activity kits with six virtual lessons and one in-person gardening day. Individual families were invited to come be part of videos taped at Patchwork and shared with all participants.

All of this programming was offered at no cost to the children’s families. Daily activities included one-on-one tutoring, visual arts, gardening, cooking, leadership training, substance abuse prevention, and reading. Through these activities, children gained important skills for life. Our program evaluation indicated that they built relationships within a supportive community of adults and fellow participants who encouraged them to explore their interests and to do better, which are indicators of future success.

Neighborhood Hospitality – One service Patchwork provides to our neighbors is simply our presence in the neighborhood. We call it Neighborhood Hospitality. From October 2019 through March 2020, we logged approximately 4981 instances of hospitality. These included cups of coffee, phone use, bread, fresh vegetables, and referrals to other local agencies better equipped to assist the individual with their needs. From October 2019-March 2020 it also included 657 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. We also brewed approximately 809 pots of coffee. Beginning in July 2020, we reopened our Neighborhood Hospitality as Shade Tree Hospitality, offering limited services to our guests in the shadow of the big tree in Patchwork’s front courtyard. Shade Tree Hospitality services include drinks, snacks, fresh produce, bread, and lots of friendly conversation.

Bike Shop – The Bike Shop is open Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 8:30-noon and provides refurbished bikes to people who need them for transportation and repairs that allow existing bike owners to keep their means of transportation roadworthy. From October 2019 through March 2020, we provided 43 refurbished adult bikes to new owners and we did 135 repairs for walk-in clients.

Sozo Health Ministry – The Sozo Health Ministry promotes health and wholeness through weekly health screenings, education, advocacy, non-emergency medical transportation, and spiritual care. It is coordinated by Rev. John Rich, RN. Last year, it provided 316 total health encounters for 194 total clients including some who received service as part of our First Fridays with Patchwork at Central Library. Services included 35 instances of transporting clients to medical appointments, 219 checks of blood pressure, and 77 instances of medical supplies distributed. They also included 10 occasions in which staff identified emergency health situations in clients and 911 was called or the client was transported to an ER. Sozo services paused in March 2020, but reopened on a limited basis in July 2020.

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 Evansville Friends Meeting, and the Greater Evansville Youth Group.

Community Garden – Patchwork maintains an urban garden next to our building, and we have since 1995. It provides pleasant green space for our neighborhood and it serves as an educational tool to use with the children in our programs.

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. As a result of the pandemic, our Sunday worship services have moved to a virtual format on Facebook Live, so people from around the country have been able to join in.

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