Benedictine Sisters of Erie Home Home

The Mending Place continues to adapt

The Mending Place sign


The Mending Place has continuously adjusted to the changes and needs of the agency and its customers, as is true of all that happens at Saint Benedict Education Center.  The latest venture is to offer curbside drop-off and pick-up service – for the time being -- as SBEC continues to limit access to the building.

The Mending Place first opened in 2014 in an effort to address the needs of some refugee participants who were quite skilled in sewing.  Due to a language barrier and the newness of their experiences in the United States the Mending Place was created as a learning and service experience in an attempt to teach job-readiness skills.  This evolved into the instruction itself being offered to the participants by two Bhutanese refugees.  As the program evolved, necessary changes were made in the structure and instruction staff in the Mending Place.

The purpose of the Mending Place has not changed.  It offers basic sewing instruction and a customer service experience for a limited number of participants. It also offers a sewing service to the public as a way of giving SBEC participants various opportunities to practice necessary skills. The Mending Place continues to be dependent on the generous donations of customers.

Monday, July 20, the Mending Place will begin offering curbside drop-off/pick-up services, 12:00 noon - 3:30 pm, Monday through Friday. Customers will need to call the Mending Place at 814-452-4072 ext. 315 to schedule a drop-off time and to receive directions from one of the seamstresses, Damanta or Cynthia.

Meet Damanta, who came to the United States with her family in 2011 from Bhutan.  She proudly became a U.S. citizen in 2017.  Since beginning to work in the Mending Place, December, 2014, Damanta says she has learned many new things including English and customer service.  She enjoys SBEC because she likes to work and the people are helpful, especially Cynthia from whom she learns new sewing tips.

Damanta also worked at a hotel and has been working as a home health giver to her mother-in-law for 3 years.  She is very family oriented and enjoys spending time with her husband, five children, and others, especially during Hindu festivals.  Damanta likes to read, cook, take walks, decorate/enhance her home, and tend her beautiful garden.  She first learned to sew at home in Nepal.

Meet Cynthia, who began sewing at a young age under the tutelage of her Aunt Lisa Stanton.  She was always very crafty and loved creating things out of whatever material she could find.  She takes every opportunity, sewing costumes for herself and her two children as well as quilting and crafting.  She likes to make pot holders, oven mitts, bowl covers, and much more.  

Prior to beginning in the Mending Place, Cynthia worked for the Barber National Institute and did costume making.  She worked with Anansi Collaborations LLC, Sovereign Ballet, and Dafmark Dance theatre where she created costumes for a number of productions   Cynthia is a local artist who has taught students how to personalize and create their own chessboard and pieces through Anansi Collaborations LLC as part of Erie Arts and Culture: New Horizon program.  

In her downtime, Cynthia continues costume making, along with sewing for fun, crafting, camping and adventuring with her children.  

Prior to the March 16th closing a visitor to the Mending Place could sense a spirit of enthusiasm and creativity flowing from Cynthia and Damanta, offered each in their own way.  Cynthia speaks of finding “great joy in teaching participants new projects and developing their sewing skills.”

Damanta and Cynthia look forward to the time when the Mending Place is fully open.  Then they can again enjoy “watching their students’ skills improve and see them become more confident in their work.”  They are also eager to serve their Erie customers again.  

For now the staff at SBEC continue to carefully navigate the current changes, striving to keep everyone safe.  May we all be patient – and safe!