It hit me when I realized that it was time to unplug Patchwork’s coffeemaker. It’s the commercial kind that is always at the ready with a perpetually heated water reservoir. But for now it doesn’t have to be ready to make coffee. It’s just wasting electricity.
A week ago Thursday, this room had been full of people. In the morning Nancy and Gavin had made nine pots of coffee. Shawn had overseen eight showers. Many people had come through the building to rest or to visit with their friends. The food pantry had provided three full food orders and plenty of additional loaves of bread and produce. But, there had been extra tension in the air. Nancy had noted that many of our guests had a particularly elevated need for someone to talk to.
That afternoon the children’s program had not been very busy because there was torrential rain just as most kids would have been on their way to us. Still, Patchwork was a safe place for the kids who were here, including a boy who had decided to ride his bike to us for eight blocks in a downpour (we helped him dry off and call his mom to let her know he was safe).
Patchwork’s building has been empty since that day.
I deeply miss the hubbub, but John and I assessed the situation: the activity we have observed at Patchwork on a daily basis, the recommendations from the CDC, the dangers to our staff and volunteers, many of whom are at risk of severe complications should they contract COVID-19. It’s a rapidly changing situation. At this time, Patchwork does not have the capacity to truly keep our guests, staff, and volunteers safe from this virus. Now is not the time to welcome large groups of people to come together here.
So for the time being, Patchwork’s programming is paused and the building is closed. However, Patchwork is still present in this neighborhood.
For all of Patchwork’s history, we have been adaptable. Our people are part of this neighborhood. We have worked hard to listen for the needs around us. We have looked for the ways that our skills and resources can meet those needs.
As things settle into a new normal, we will be here. We are here now. We won’t leave, though we all will change. When we get through this, that coffeemaker will be back on.
We will continue to keep you updated as we maintain our presence and listen for ways to help our community during this crisis and afterward. Please keep us in your prayers. Also keep in your prayers our community partners who remain open to serve those in our community who are struggling. These places include Aurora, St Vincent de Paul’s food pantry, and shelters like our neighbors at House of Bread and Peace and United Caring Services whose day shelter remains open.