The Gathering Tree is a late-afternoon/evening shelter for adults who need a rest from walking the streets or just a break from life’s challenges. It looks warm and cozy from outside...exactly what organizers of the Gathering Tree intended.
The shelter is three years old, and recently moved into the old Rare Breed building at 215 S. Campbell, in Springfield, Missouri. Five nights a week, The Gathering Tree opens its doors to people who have nowhere else to go.
Other local shelters are open for breakfast, lunch, and overnights. So The Gathering Tree offers people a place to hang out from 5 in the afternoon until 8 p.m. There is usually a dinner served, but the primary goal at this shelter is create relationships with the people who visit. By listening to them and getting to know them, volunteers at the Gathering Tree tune in to the kind of help individuals need.
The shelter is designed so that independent volunteer groups can take on one evening a week at the shelter. Each group usually serves dinner, but other activities, like hair cuts, or live music are left to the discretion of the volunteers.
Linda Brown is one of eight people who organized The Gathering Tree in 2010. She says the people who come there have helped her more than she’s helped them. She says it’s changed her life to get to know the people, some of whom have found themselves out on the street without a place to call home.
The Gathering Tree is always in need of donations, but if you or someone you know is looking for a place to volunteer there are two evenings in need of a small group to serve. The shelter is open only five days a week right now, because there are no volunteers for Mondays or Wednesdays. For more information about the organization, check out its Facebook page.