Chris B. was isolated. A year earlier, the formerly outgoing newspaper advertising sales manager had moved back in with parents when his anxiety and depression became too much. Now, he rarely left the house. “I was in a dark place for a while,” Chris says.
With help from The Gathering Place, Chris forged sustaining relationships and found renewed purpose in life. The transition from a life of solitude to one of connection took some getting used to, Chris recalls. The first few weeks at The Gathering Place he hung back and read books in a corner chair. Then, he began taking courses and chatting with other members. “I started getting to know people here and there and found people’s experiences I could relate to — a sense of camaraderie.” Chris says.
As time went on, Chris put his newspaper experience to work by publishing a monthly newsletter for The Gathering Place. The project quickly became a vital way for members to contribute and socialize. Each month, the newsletter staff celebrated their hard work with a popcorn party. Then they handed out copies of the finished newsletter to their eagerly awaiting fellow club members.
“It was a fun time for everyone,” Chris says. “And it felt really good being part of a team and having a finished product. I am unbelievably proud of everyone."
In March 2020, The Gathering Place temporarily closed for the members’ health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. Face-to-face services transitioned online. But the need for human connection was greater than ever. Working from home, Chris created a one-page digital version of the newsletter to help members stay in touch. He also started holding Zoom get-togethers every Friday. A Wednesday Spanish class and another Zoom meeting on Monday quickly followed. “It was just great to see all those faces again,” Chris says. “It was a way to help keep us all connected.”
While the members have adapted to meeting virtually, they are excited to get together again in person in The Gathering Place’s newly renovated space.
“I think I can speak for many of the members when I say that being able to attend and belong to a community such as The Gathering Place, especially being surrounded by the beautiful new renovations at the clubhouse, helps to instill a sense of pride in all of us,” Chris says. “We are so grateful for everyone who makes TGP possible.”