Every so often, someone appears at Patchwork and they linger a little longer than usual while looking around the building. Or we’ll see them posing their child for a photo on the Welcome Matt sculpture in Patchwork’s front yard. Or we’ll overhear them as they point to a portrait on Patchwork’s wall and ask their friend, “You remember her? We used to go here when we were kids.”
And then we realize that, yes, we recognize the person—or we recognize hints of the little fifth grader who was a participant in the Arts & Smarts program 20 years ago. And it’s a wonderful feeling to see that they’re doing well and that they’re happy. They’re a parent. They’re a business owner. And they’re back to visit this place and these people who were special to them when they were kids.
This week we made connections with three such children-turned-adults. It’s a valued reminder of why we do what we do. It’s a reminder that everything we do for kids at Patchwork makes a difference. The relationships built, the interests nurtured, the special projects, the protective spaces, the moments large and small.
We’re at work this semester building more of these moments with a new generation of kids. They’re working on homework with supervision from adults. They’re mixing colors and painting big paintings on easels. They’re learning how to knit headbands using looms. They’re creating a “storytelling in the round” project in which each participant contributes one sentence of a story that gets wilder and more unbelievable as things go on. They’re creating “galaxy glitter jars” filled with glittering ooze.
“This has been an encouraging week. We’ve been feeling particularly good about being here,” said Jane Vickers. “It’s felt good to have some new faces in the mix: one high school volunteer and two kids. And there are some returnees who only came a couple times in the fall but now they’re back. It balances the goings—the boy who moved to Florida over Christmas, the other who won’t be back for a little bit because of…life.”
One of the newer participants walked up to Jane at the end of his first day and said, “I love it here.”
Maybe he’ll be the one walking into the main office in 20 years just to see how we’re all doing and to tell us about the things he’s accomplished.