Brunswick's Gathering Place to build headquarters on Union Street

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BRUNSWICK — For the past five years, The Gathering Place social services nonprofit has been meeting in other organizations’ buildings.

But thanks to a nearly completed $450,000 campaign, that could soon change.

The organization, which provides shelter, companionship and support for the poor and homeless in greater Brunswick, announced this week that it has signed a letter of intent with Doten’s Construction of Freeport to build a 2,200-square-foot building on property it has purchased off Union Street.

The lot sits on the same campus as the Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program and the Adventist Clothing Bank.

George Hardy, vice president of The Gathering Place, said in a press release that “there is no central hub for social services in Brunswick now. … The building we have in mind will change that.”

The Gathering Place was founded in 2010 and conducts daytime services four days a week at the Adventist Clothing Bank, and one day at the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church’s community room.

“On our first day, we had seven guests,” President Chick Carroll said in an interview Wednesday. “Today, we have 50, 60, 70 people, in a room that’s something like 24 by 36 feet.”

He said a new building will have private meeting rooms for classes on topics like wellness and resume-building, and provide space for counseling and other social service agencies that work with Gathering Place clients.

He said a new building will help the organization fulfill what it set out to do in 2010.

The location, which is close to downtown and between the hunger program and clothing bank, is “easily accessible to everyone … a hub for serving the interests of people who are poor and homeless,” according to the press release.

The organization stresses the importance of daytime shelter and facilities for those who are poor or homeless.

Even if people are able to find a bed in a shelter for the night, during the day “they seek refuge in libraries that don’t have the resources to help them, or in parks as passersby turn a blind eye,” the organization says. “The revolving door of homelessness provides no security, no foundation for change and no opportunity for coordinated services.”

But at The Gathering Place, “our guests will have a place where they can be welcome and secure,” Carroll said.

He said Wednesday that the organization has raised about two-thirds of its $450,000 goal, entirely from private donations.

More information can be found and donations can be made on the organization’s website, brunswickgatheringplace.org.

If all goes according to plan, construction will begin in April, and the new building will open 12-14 weeks later, Carroll said.

When asked how staff, volunteers, and clients feel about the opening of a new home, he had one word: “Ecstatic.”

Walter Wuthmann can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or wwuthmann@theforecaster.net. Follow Walter on Twitter: @wwuthmann.

Gathering Place President Chick Carroll and Dana Boer review plans for their organization’s new headquarters Feb. 17. The building at 84 Union St. in Brunswick will be razed to accommodate new construction.

A rendering of the new Gathering Place building at 84 Union St., Brunswick.

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Brunswick/Harpswell reporter for The Forecaster. Bowdoin College grad, San Francisco Bay Area native. Follow for municipal, school, community, and environmental news from the Midcoast.