I am reminded at times when in conversation that not everyone is aware of The Gathering Place (TGP) in Brunswick. What is TGP? Where is TGP located? Who does TGP serve? What happens at TGP? Let me begin first with the mission of TGP.

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.

How do we carry out this mission daily? We are open Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. and Saturday 8:30 a.m.-no0n. Volunteers, under the supervision of the volunteer supervisor, set out coffee, juices, breakfast sandwiches, muffins and other baked goods. TGP purchases some items; others are generously donated by Rusty’s Market in Topsham, Rusty Lantern Market at Cook’s Corner, Hannaford in Brunswick, and 7-Eleven in Brunswick. We are thankful for these donations, which would be a considerable expense for TGP to purchase. Before closing in the afternoon, guests are invited to take daily donated food for the evening.

We welcome our morning guests and talk with them. Some have spent the night sleeping in the car or perhaps a tent. Others have received an eviction notice from the landlord because the monthly rent has increased. Other guests arrive, perhaps living alone, and enjoy the opportunity to socialize over a cup of coffee.

The day moves on, and guests go across the campus to pick up a hot meal from the Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program building. Yes, I say campus, which is located at 5 Tenney Way, off Union St., behind Hannaford. The campus is shared by MCHPP, TGP, and the Seventh Day Adventist Clothing Bank, where our guests can obtain needed clothing. We have computers and phone chargers accessible for guests to use. Assistance is given for filling out the necessary paperwork to obtain State of Maine benefits, such as food stamps and housing.

On a cold winter’s night, when the outdoor temperature reaches 10 degrees, we open TGP as a warming shelter. Guests can come from 8 p.m.- 7 a.m. We offer warmth from the outdoors, hot coffee and snacks. One night, homemade soup was donated; another night, baked beans with cornbread was on the menu. What a source of comfort for the couple who walked from Freeport one snowy evening!


Guests often refer to coming to “The Gathering.” Perhaps this is an abbreviation for The Gathering Place or a nickname, but very accurate terminology. Folks come both morning and afternoon, and during some evenings and nights, to be together, to share their stories with one another, to have food and warmth, to rest, to receive a warm jacket, socks, gloves. Folks come to where they feel welcome, to be listened to and to be heard. Others find a quiet corner to rest.

TGP is fortunate to have the leadership of an outstanding Staff. Mary Connolly, our executive director, Alex Bessey, our community navigator, and Jenny Gaghan, our volunteer coordinator. Having a strong staff and a strong corps of volunteers is essential to fulfilling our mission. Without a doubt, we are seeing an uptake in physical and mental disabilities among our guests, and at the same time we are seeing a greater number of folks new to TGP.

With these changes, we are in need of more volunteers to staff our shifts. Do come by TGP during open hours to see our building, and to see how TGP reaches out to those in need in our community. Maybe you can stay for a cup of coffee, meet some of the volunteers and see our building, which was built with the support of many of our community members and opened in 2011. Volunteer applications are readily available onsite, and we hope you will consider joining with us. There is a planned orientation for new volunteers and shifts would be according to your availability.

Maybe you are wondering where you might drop off a somewhat used warm coat, jacket, and blanket or sleeping bag. Such contributions are not only welcome, but also needed, as are scarves and gloves. If you are considering other donations and have questions, you may call TGP at (207) 729-0288.

Please continue to ask questions about TGP when in conversation. It is wonderful to know folks want to learn more about our community’s outreach programs.

Giving Voice is a weekly collaboration among four local non-profit service agencies to share information and stories about their work in the community.

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