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The Gathering Place Blog

It's Black History Month! Join us in celebrating Rachel Noel, her strength, her dedication, and her accomplishments towards educational equity in Colorado. Then, let's take a look at how our past and present collide in the disproportionate way Black individuals experience homelessness and poverty.

When it comes to accessing essential services and resources, like showers, food, a safe space, case management, and housing navigators, how many hoops should people have to jump through? TGP has adapted to a low-barrier services model in order to build a stronger community and open up access for those that struggle more to gain it.

Can you feel the anticipation in the air? Colorado Gives Day is just around the corner, and I bet your inbox is blowing up with emails about it (ours certainly is). Now, you might be wondering, "Why should I support TGP this Colorado Gives Day?” Well, we’re glad you asked. This month’s blog will unravel the Colorado Gives Day magic and show you the real impact a donation can make on a member's journey. 

As October comes to an end, we feel it’s crucial to spotlight an issue that demands our attention and collective action: Domestic Violence Awareness Month and its impact on our community. Every survivor has a story, and their courage in breaking free from the chains of domestic violence (DV) deserves acknowledgment. This is a silent epidemic. Behind closed doors, many people are trapped in a cycle of fear, manipulation, and abuse.

A few months back, we had a post on social media that got some serious traction – it was all about busting the myths around homelessness. We thought it was time to revisit this conversation because it's complicated, and there's a lot of misunderstanding. At TGP, our core mission is supporting people navigating poverty and helping them find stability. We've got some additional facts to add to these myths, and we'd love your help spreading the word and setting the record straight.

As we immerse ourselves in Pride Month's vibrant colors and infectious joy, it is crucial to reflect on the ongoing challenges faced by the queer community. While Denver has made strides in protecting and advocating for LGBTQ+ rights, there remains a persistent issue: the marginalization of queer individuals, especially when accessing safe and affordable housing.

Paula has been an integral part of The Gathering Place (TGP) family for over two decades, growing and evolving alongside the organization. Her story is a moving example of what being in community at TGP looks like. From homelessness to volunteering, Paula and her six kids have received much-needed stabilizing assistance, nutritious meals and found a sense of belonging in a space that celebrates and uplifts Black individuals. "We became family here," Paula said. 

Shelia's story is one of resilience and strength in the face of adversity. She found herself living in her car due to the actions of her abusive ex-husband. "I'm not a quitter," she said. Instead, Shelia has fought for herself and her quality of life, and in doing so, she has found a community of support and a renewed sense of purpose at The Gathering Place (TGP). 

Community is an essential aspect of human life, but what truly makes a community? It's a group of people that have something in common, like interests, values, beliefs, and experiences. And at TGP, our community comes together for mutual support to walk alongside each other in their journey.

What does it feel like to you when you are welcomed home?  For me, it’s a sense of unconditional acceptance, an ease and assurance that I can be fully myself.  It’s knowing that my strengths will be trusted, and my presence celebrated. It’s knowing that I can let my guard down and ask to be cared for, helped, and supported. Being welcomed home is knowing that I am part of an interconnected and interdependent group of people. 

TGP exists because of a mutual goal - being there for our shared community. Today, we’re excited to give you an update on some of our members: Princess and her family. 

The Gathering Place is what we build together - it’s why we have such a wide range of services. This month, we’re giving you a small peak behind the scenes to answer why we’ve added even more services for our community.

When Jennifer first walked into The Gathering Place (TGP) in late 2017, the last thing on her mind was finding a community.

The Supreme Court’s Decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade and end federal abortion rights has caused widespread sorrow and indignation among those of us who believe in individuals’ fundamental right to make decisions about their own bodies. At TGP, we have seen, heard, and felt the fear in our members since the decision was announced.

Shai has experienced homelessness in four different states, but now she calls TGP’s 24/7 shelter home. According to Shai, “I tell everybody, especially the new people that come here, that The Gathering Place is the best place in the state.”

At first, Laura was nervous about coming to The Gathering Place. It was January of 2021 and she had just been released from prison. She didn’t know where to go, and her parole officer didn’t offer much help. A friend assured her that TGP would provide the support she needed without judgment, but she still wasn’t sure.

Paula started coming to The Gathering Place in 1996 while she was working across the street and a friend mentioned that TGP served lunch. She soon realized that TGP provided so much more, including community, safety, and hope.

It is with both sadness and gratitude that we announce that Julia Stewart will be departing from her role of President & CEO of The Gathering Place in order to move closer to family. Her last day as President & CEO will be Friday, June 24, 2022, but she will remain on staff in an advisory capacity through July 8th to support a smooth transition.  We are so grateful to Julia for her eight years of dedicated service to TGP.

Emma was pregnant with her third child when we met her in November of 2021. Emma and her two children had just driven from Maryland to Colorado to start their new life. She had already secured a full-time job, but her family was struggling to find affordable housing. “We had nowhere to stay, so we came to TGP. We got a motel voucher and started coming every day so the kids could play and I could see the case managers and fill out paperwork.” 

When you get off of the elevator at The Gathering Place, there’s a photo of Sonja and her daughter, a small child at the time the picture was taken. Sonja first started coming to TGP in 2005 when she was unemployed.

It’s not often that TGP members end up serving on our board of directors, but that’s exactly the path that Jennifer took when she joined our oversight team as a community volunteer in 2019. The fact that it was less than two years since Jennifer first arrived at The Gathering Place highlighted just how far she had come in that time and how committed she was to helping others do the same.

Shavonne never expected to move to Colorado, but COVID-19 had other plans. Previously living in Florida, she lost her job at the start of the pandemic and quickly fell behind. She couldn’t afford her apartment any longer, couldn’t find a long-term shelter in her area and realized she was at risk for experiencing homelessness if she didn’t find the support she needed. A Google search, of all things, pointed her toward TGP’s daytime center where she was able to access resources to meet her basic needs as well as secure transitional housing at our 24/7 shelter.

Princess Norwood is experiencing homelessness for the first time with four kids following a split from her husband. She went from having the stability of another income and being able to care for her young kids to being on her own. Princess recently sat down with us to discuss her experiences at TGP and what she values the most during her time here.

2020 was a difficult year for everyone. The pandemic exacerbated many systemic problems and highlighted how deep those disparities are for poor women, women of color, and transgender individuals. In response, we are adding new programming, increasing our focus on emergency services and ensuring a continuum of supports are in place to help people not just resolve an immediate crisis, but to make long-term changes to obtain long-term stability.

One of the earliest losses of 2020 was Bridget’s Boutique, The Gathering Place’s clothing bank that distributes clothing to members who have an emergency need or are looking for comfortable, casual clothing.