The Gathering Place- “welcome is our mission”
Homelessness and poverty have many faces and voices.
“I am 60 years old and my husband, two sons and I are living in my car. I was a social worker helping others and now I am ashamed. I’m living in a drug infested neighborhood, a victim of abuse and running from DHHS. Nobody helps me, why didn’t anybody tell me about the Gathering Place? Can you help me? – Anonymous
“We, the homeless, have fallen beyond that invisible, fine line that circumstances have caused us to pass over. Once there, it becomes a war that we struggle to fight and win. For some it is temporary, but for others it is ongoing and almost impossible to win, so we give up.” Charlene
The revolving door of homelessness provides no security, no foundation for change and no opportunity for coordinated services. It is a lonely and scary existence. The Gathering Place was founded in Brunswick in 2010 by four individuals who saw so strongly a need for a place where people who aredeeply poor or homeless could find shelter, friendship and hope. The Gathering Place is a place of purpose instead of a street corner or a business where their presence might be unwelcome.
Our mission: to provide a safe, welcoming, and comfortable space for people to gather in downtown Brunswick where we offer our guests respect, encouragement, companionship and hope. Our vision is to create a caring community for greater Brunswick by collaborating with our guests, volunteers, staff and neighboring organizations to provide the most vulnerable among us with daytime shelter, sustenance, access to resources and opportunities to improve their lives. “There is a place that I go, when I’ve no place to be. It’s filled with warmth and caring by the ones who welcome me.” -Charlene
The Gathering Place fills a critical gap in our social safety net. With rising housing costs, the military base closing and job prospects scarce, Brunswick and surrounding communities are seeing more and more individuals in need of help. The Gathering Place is the only day facility in our community. Before it was established, the poor and homeless had no place to go. Tedford Housing closes during the day, MCHP, Curtis Memorial Library and local businesses are unable to accommodate the needs of our guests. Without a permanent home, the clothing bank located at 84 Union Street generously offered us a shared space agreement. In February 2011 The Gathering Place opened its doors.
- On its first day, The Gathering Place received seven visits.
- Now on a typical day, we welcome between 50 and 70 guests.
- In four years we have been visited over 50,000 times.
We are open 4 days a week at the Union Street location and because the Clothing Bank is open on Wednesdays we relocate to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church community room. The logistics of sharing space is difficult. The only room we are able to use measures 24 x 36 feet and become very crowded on busy days. We would like to offer more collaborative services with other organizations that support our guests as well as educational classes like literacy, smoking cessation, health, wellness and job search counselling.
The Gathering Place serves a diverse group which includes seniors on fixed incomes, disabled veterans, individuals on disabilities and many other thoughtful and articulate people. Many, if not most, suffer from physical or mental/emotional disabilities. A few are able to work part time, low skilled, low paying jobs. Many suffer from chronic health issues that are left un treated. The judgmental attitudes that our patrons experience is absent at the Gathering Place because everyone has been in a similar place or shared a similar experience. “The Gathering Place is more than a sanctuary. Without it, some of us would be going back to gas station bathrooms. There are things you can’t experience and can’t talk about unless you have to live on the edge.” -Mitch. As a result, there is a remarkable atmosphere of graciousness, mutual generosity, and good humor. There is often an ongoing card game, a chess match and on Thursday’s a writing group meets. Volunteers are our most valuable resource.
- We have 45 committed volunteers and 3 are always on duty.
- Volunteers contribute a total of 90 hours per week.
They are well trained and are comfortable managing sometimes complicated situations. Our Volunteer Director provides a comprehensive training program for each volunteer and they meet monthly to discuss any issues that may need to be addressed. “The Gathering Place, its treasure to behold. There are so many sad stories here just waiting to be told. The homeless, the jobless, the young, the old, some with such sad eyes, others determined to make it. In a world that does not welcome all, not willing to hear a desperate call. Why do I volunteer at the Gathering Place? I feel I can help here in answering that call.”- June, volunteer
Be part of the solution and support our vision to meet the growing and changing needs of our homeless community. We have purchased a building that is located just behind the building we presently share, just a minute’s walk from Midcoast Hunger Prevention, with which we collaborate closely. (Quote from Karen from letter of support)
|Current Building is:
● very crowded on busy days.
● too small so we cannot provide additional programming.
● invisible in the community.
● not our own.
● the shared space makes it difficult to maintain stability.
|New Facility will:
● allow us to help more people.
● broaden the services available to our guests.
● increase awareness to the everyday problems facing low income households.
● solve the demand for private meeting space from related agencies.
● increase visibility in the community.
Be part of our future. The building plans are drawn; we’ve begun our fundraising; and we are pleased to report that we’ve secured a lead gift of $100,000 and 100% board participation. With your help, we can reach our goal of $_____ and break ground in the spring of 2016.
The Gathering Place’s new home will bring something new and important to the Brunswick area- a hub where the interests of all people who are materially poor and homeless will be better served. Our goal is to bring services to the people who need them. We don’t try to do everything ourselves. Instead, we team up with local businesses, MCHP, Tedford Housing, Oasis Healthcare, and Mid Coast Hospital to leverage our collective resources. Sometimes our partnerships have a large impact and sometimes they touch a single life. We are turning to you for your support. The Gathering Place is a non-denominational 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt charitable organization. Your donation is tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law. Please consult your tax advisor. Please make your gift today to our Capital Campaign and help support the homeless and poor of our community. In the words of one of our volunteers, “It could have been me, the homeless one. Would someone answer my call?” June