Alumni help patch lives back together

Mar 27, 2014

Heidelberg alums at Patchwork houseIn downtown Tiffin sits a warm, welcoming home where families in distress come to feel safe and receive support and guidance. With its brightly colored environs, PatchWorks House provides assistance to families who have suffered some type of trauma such as abuse, neglect, divorce, separation or child custody issues.

Among the PatchWorks staff are four Heidelberg alumni – Diane (Stover) Stallings, ’84; Cindy (Tasse) Engel, ’80, Cristy Allen, MA ’06; and Ronee Rice, ’12. Together, they are dedicated to providing quality services in the areas of supervised visitation, supervised exchanges between parents, education and mediation.

According to Founder and Executive Director Barbara Flood, Heidelberg and PatchWorks house has had a lengthy, productive and mutually beneficial partnership. PatchWorks has hosted interns, Honors students and other student volunteers, and has received support through special projects and fundraisers.

“The realization that we currently have four employees who are ‘Berg alumni reminds me how fortunate we are to have such a wonderful resource in our community,” Barb said. “Our experience is truly a testament to the quality of not only their education but also of the character of the people who choose Heidelberg. We are very blessed to have these four outstanding individuals working with our program.”

Diane, who is a part-time elementary music teacher, explained that as a case manager, she facilitates communication with families and the courts and children’s services (within Seneca County Job and Family Services).

The presence of PatchWorks House “takes the pressure off of families and gives them peace of mind,” Diane said.

For Ronee, working at PatchWorks House is personal. “I grew up in a home where we could have utilized these kinds of services, but that didn’t happen,” she said. “When I think about how much I struggled, I’m motivated to help kids in similar or worse situations. That’s the main reason I love working here.”

All of the alumni employees hope that through PatchWorks services, parents learn from their mistakes, but they concede that doesn’t always happen. “It’s difficult to see children as victims of poor parenting,” Diane said. The bottom line is to make those children comfortable and relieve their anxiety.

Despite the challenges, the staff members do see progress, and therein lies great satisfaction. “We do see families progress from supervised visits and move on (to no longer require PatchWorks’ services),” said Cindy, who utilizes her social work background as a program assistant.

Because all of the services are provided at no charge, PatchWorks House relies on community support and resources. Last year, for example, Ronee organized a drive to collect toys, games, crafts and monetary donations on campus, all of which “found good homes here.”

In addition to paid staff, the organization also relies heavily on volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering, call 419-448-0080.