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 figured 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?”
“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.