The Gathering Place is promoting safety and hope through relationships, choice, and resources

July 1, 2024

Pictured above: Emarie Mayfield, The Gathering Place member and mother; courtesy of The Gathering Place

Emarie Mayfield was 17 years old with a newborn when she was house-hopping and struggling to put food on the table. She heard about The Gathering Place as a resource for families just like hers and she figured she didn’t have anything to lose.  

She explains her youth as a very stressful time. “I didn’t set my expectations too high because I’ve been let down a lot,” she said.  

Mayfield said she was surprised by the people, the food, and the services at The Gathering Place.   

“Most of the time, it was getting help with finding a place to stay or help with money to buy something to eat because I didn’t have money to get us food,” she said.  

Although The Gathering Place is not a shelter, Mayfield was able to go there during the day and have a safe place to be with her child.  

They helped her get into a shelter and sign up for housing programs. Mayfield now has her own apartment she can call home. “They helped me with the security deposit as well as the first month’s rent. They also were able to help me find rent based on my income,” she explained.  

“For me to see how much The Gathering Place has supported and helped me, it means a lot. One day I want to be able to give back to them.”

- Emarie Mayfield, The Gathering Place member and mother

Her son, now 10 years old, loves his home. Mayfield says he doesn’t want to leave their apartment. “The Gathering Place is a safe and loving place for women and their children,” she said.  

Christian Nesbitt is the director of Wellness and Recovery Programs at The Gathering Place. 

When The Gathering Places started about 30 years ago, its goal was to help women who were staying in shelters with a safe place to be during the day.

“That time could be somewhere for them to have a meal, take a shower, get ready to go to work,” explained Nesbitt.  

Some of the other services Nesbitt says they provide are snack times, water, clothing, showers, a wellness center with over-the-counter medication, and referrals to medical professionals.  

“We have been reinforcing our trauma-informed and low-barrier practices,” said Nesbitt. “When someone fills out an intake form, the only thing they need to fill out is their chosen name, date of birth, and pronouns. That’s on purpose.” 

The Gathering Place has a thoughtful focus on the transgender and non-binary individuals experiencing housing instability. “We don’t serve based on sexuality. We serve based on gender,” said Nesbitt.  

“It takes trust, stability, and consistency to make an impact in someone’s life. All things The Gathering Place provides for the people they help.”

- Christian Nesbitt, Director of Wellness and Recovery Programs at The Gathering Place

“More often than not, if someone is trans and they are experiencing homelessness they are the most vulnerable person,” explained Nesbitt. “We’ll often have people present themselves as cisnormative, but that’s because they’re staying in a shelter, and if they don’t present in this way, they’ll get beat up or harmed. So it’s important for us not to judge people.” 

The Gathering Place offers services to combat poverty and address the impacts of marginalization and oppression that are often contributing factors to poverty or homelessness.

By offering low-barrier access to a broad range of basic necessities and wrap-around care options, The Gathering Place guides women, transgender and non-binary individuals, and children living in poverty from a place of crisis and instability to one of stability and security. 

They believe deeply in the power of our community and continually work to strengthen it.  

In 2023, The Gathering Place had 4,678 adults visit 36,795 times, 102,223 meals were served through the kitchen and pantry, 602 individuals utilized physical and mental health services, and over 100 households transitioned into stable housing.  

With the support of The Denver Foundation and its donors, The Gathering Place is better able to provide services and support to marginalized identities toward stability, housing, and recovery.  

The Denver Foundation believes adequate, accessible housing is essential for a community to function. Affordable housing is a value we are proud to invest in. The Denver Foundation and its donors have been funding The Gathering Place for decades.