Contrary to what one might think; we are not really all that different. Here are six stories shared by folks who visit The Gathering Place.

Mark, the single parent, who was raising his teen age son and working at a field management level in the construction industry. His son got cancer in his mid teens, and was hospitalized for a lengthy time in Boston. All during that time, Mark traveled to Boston in the evening to see his son, usually returning home around midnight or later. Five hours sleep was insufficient, and his employer put him on notice, until Mark’s son died. After his death, the hospital presented Mark with a bill almost $2 million beyond his insurance coverage, and his employer let him go. Mark’s only recourse was to sign his house over to the hospital. He became homeless, and for a time he drank too much. When he came to The Gathering Place, he had become sober and was trying to put his life back together. The last we saw of him was as he left for upstate New York where he had family.

Don and Carla. Don, a U.S. Navy veteran, receives a small disability pension, and Carla receives a small disability pension as well, due to a chronic condition. Their adult son Aaron lives with them, as his schizophrenia makes him unable to be on his own. The family depends on Don to get odd jobs during the summer to supplement their inadequate pension income. This past year, in May while Don was working for a customer, the foot of the ladder he was on kicked out, with the result that Don fell and broke bones in his vertebra, just a fraction of an inch away from a nerve that would have paralyzed him. The result was that Don was unable to work for 4 months, and unable to earn the extra money they needed. They are now falling further and further behind on their bills and face financial disaster.

Sally came to The Gathering Place two years ago, escaping from a dangerous and physically abusive husband in another state. Changing her name for protection from him, she manages to work 2 jobs to support herself and her 2 children. Between her two jobs she comes to The Gathering Place for friendship and support from folks who understand her plight.

Alexander, a promising college football player, had a bright future ahead of him in his native state in the south. Until, that is, he had to give up football due to injuries. Losing his scholarship, he was forced to leave school. However, he was able to get good paying jobs in the offshore oil industry, and later on offshore fishing vessels. Until ill health intervened, when due to diabetes he began losing his toes one by one. At present he walks with a cane, and is unable to work at any job for which is has experience and qualifications.

Bonnie. Formally married to a successful electrical contractor, Bonnie lived a solid middle class life, until both financial ruin and divorce struck almost simultaneously. Now, in her late 60’s, she is destitute, far from the life she once knew.

Amanda, a promising musician, who was struck by an aneurism in her late 30’s. Amanda was unconscious for many months, supported by both her husband and her parents, despite the doctor’s insistence that she be allowed to die. In a miracle of healing, she awoke one day, to the joy of her husband who was in her room at the time. After many months of rehab, she was able to return to her earlier life, although she was much diminished by the experience. Tragedy struck again, however, as her husband died at a young age of cancer. Amanda is fortunate enough to have a subsidized apartment, and to have resumed some volunteer musical activities.