The Gathering Place serves a diverse group which includes seniors on fixed incomes, disabled veterans, individuals with disabilities.

Many, if not most, suffer from physical or mental/emotional disabilities. Many suffer from chronic health issues that are left untreated.

A few are able to work part time, low skilled, low paying jobs.

The Gathering Place fills a critical gap in our social safety net. With rising housing costs, lack of public transportation to access employment or any services 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 shelter in our community. Before it was established, the poor and homeless had no place to go.

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 Thursdays a writing group meets.

Sadly, there seems to be a striking lack of awareness that such poverty exists in our community.

True, the poor may be largely out of sight since they frequent places off the beaten path.

But a glance at the Mid Coast Hunger Prevention building off Union Street around 11 each day will reveal a crowd at the entrance to the Soup Kitchen while stories in the press regularly depict the plight of the less fortunate.

Some complain

“Why don’t they just get a job?” Or “Why are they so lazy?” Or “They’re just gaming the system.”

The answer is simple.  In the first place, the reality is that most of those who are poor and healthy want to work and, in the second place, that it’s almost impossible to get a job when you don’t have a way to get there.

Owning a car is out of the question and bus transportation is neither frequent nor flexible.

Then, just imagine how much harder it is when you add disability to the mix.   A fair estimate might be that some 75% to 80% of our guests suffer from some form of physical or mental disability, including psychological and emotional trauma.  For most, public assistance winds up as the last resort.