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The Gathering Place Blog

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.

Feletcia, has lived in Denver for six years and has experienced homelessness twice during that time. She has always kept a job. In fact, she kept four jobs to afford rent. This is her story.

To hear her describe it, Josephine Flores’ adult life has been defined by struggle. In recovery for the last 24 years, she bounced between shelters for months on end, dealt with modern hurdles such as identity theft and was forced to rebuild her life from the ground up as so many people experiencing homelessness in our community do.

After long and thoughtful consideration, The Board and the Executive Team of The Gathering Place have concluded that it is time to discontinue our social enterprise, Art Restart, and The Card Project. 

The current administration's rollback of the Affordable Care Act rulings that protected transgender persons from health care discrimination is cruel and inhumane. At The Gathering Place, we assert that health care is a human right and should never be held hostage to political ideology.

Right now, our services are more necessary than ever. Unemployment has spiked to over 12% in Denver alone; additionally, it is estimated that nearly half of all people making less than $40,000 are unemployed. Food insecurity was a crisis before COVID-19; rising unemployment means it will only get worse. In addition, the population we serve is at the greatest risk of contracting and dying from COVID-19. The Gathering Place is working to connect individuals who potentially have COVID-19 to life-saving resources. 

This Wishlist Wednesday, you can help in one of three ways.

The city has opened several free COVID-19 testing sites. Check this list to see if there is one opening near you.

Breonna Taylor. Tony McDade. Atatiana Jefferson. Pamela Turner. Tanisha Anderson. These are just some of the countless Black women and transgender individuals who have died needlessly at the hands of police officers in our country. We honor and remember them, along with George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, David McAtee, and the many other Black men who have been killed by police officers and vigilantes.

The Gathering Place is an essential business and will remain open to provide life-saving resources to Denver’s women, transgender individuals, and their children.  

The outbreak of COVID-19 has cast a harsh light on inequality in our society. Recommendations like self-quarantining, washing hands, and staying home from work and school are just not possible for everyone we serve. Despite the outbreak, TGP is committed to continuing to serve these vulnerable people during this public health emergency by providing access to hygiene, food, and other critical resources to support the health and safety of this vulnerable population.

Eligible members can now apply for SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps, at The Gathering Place every Monday and Thursday.

We strongly believe that increasing Denver’s minimum wage is an important part of the solution to addressing poverty and homelessness in Denver. We also support this proposal because it promotes greater equity in our society, by more appropriately valuing the work of historically marginalized people, particularly women and people of color.  We urge Denver City Council to approve the proposal to increase Denver’s minimum wage.

Over 40 million Americans, including over 13 million children, are living in poverty. That translates to nearly 30 million adults and nearly 13 million children lived in food-insecure households. Another 2 in 3 Americans will struggle to afford basic needs, even if they don’t qualify for federal benefit programs like SNAP. Food insecurity, or the inability to access quality, nutritious food, have devastating consequences at all stages of life.  

“Our deep concern is that thousands of children are currently being subjected to practices that were determined to be inhumane decades ago,” says Leslie Foster, President of The Gathering Place, “That is not our community, that is not what we stand for.”

Although the policy has been rescinded by Executive Order, there is still no plan in place to reunite separated children with their parents. In addition, it appears that children are lost in the system, throughout the country. Currently, the government appears to be seeking court permission to put children and families into unlicensed situations.

For Leslie Foster and the employees of The Gathering Place, the initial policy, and now the aftermath, has one clear effect: re-traumatizing thousands of children.

The Board of Directors has selected Julia Stewart as the new President of The Gathering Place. Stewart will replace current President Leslie Foster, who announced her retirement earlier this year.

High School Equivalency intake testing starts Friday, May 31.

This Mother’s Day, please remember the women in Denver who are struggling to raise their children in poverty. In just Colorado, there are 370,000 women and children living in poverty. You can help.

We would like to encourage our community to vote in the upcoming Denver Municipal Election on May 7. For general information, please visit the League of Women Voters of Denver. On their website, they have arguments for and against some of the larger ballot measures. 

Intake sessions for our High School Equivalency program start on Friday, April 26 and will continue on Monday, April 29 and Wednesday, May 1.