The Gathering Place is a downtown refuge where everyone is welcome.

Located across from Hannaford on Union Street, 60 or 70 people may call on a typical day.  It’s safe and comfortable.  A place to read the paper, have a cup of coffee, work on puzzles or use the computer to search for jobs or an apartment.

 

It serves as a destination for those who might otherwise hang out on the corner, an office for those who need to fill out forms and, perhaps, most important of all, a diversion from the despair that often accompanies homelessness.

The Gathering Place offers respect and hospitality to every guest.

We don’t keep statistics other than the number who visit each day.  We don’t ask who they are, where they live or what their circumstances may be.  But our volunteers and guests get to know each other pretty well just the same.

Many of our 45 or so volunteers have been there from the start and most have been amazed to find that not only can they help the poor but that the poor can help them as well.  Our halls are filled with so many generous, remarkable people.

Those of us who have been privileged to meet them have been enriched by the relationships we have formed.

So many tragic events happen elsewhere, it can be tempting to imagine Brunswick as a haven of safety.

Relatively speaking, of course, it is. A wonderful, prosperous place to live– for most of us.

There is a less fortunate segment of our community, however. A segment engulfed in homelessness, addiction, mental illness, suicide and despair, sometimes with fatal results. Thankfully, the lives of most of the homeless and desperately poor don’t end this way.

Nevertheless, most of the deeply poor or homeless plan to stay in Brunswick where many were raised.

Because they do, those who work and volunteer in social services come to know them personally and are as likely to count them as friends as they are clients.

Thanks to the efforts of so many individuals and institutions, Brunswick is an eminently livable place with much to offer residents, business, students and visitors.  It is this very spirit that gives hope to the poor and homeless.

Put yourself in their position. Then consider what you might be able to do.