My Dad was a participant at the Gathering Place. He had moved here from Texas, lost my Mom and struggled through Covid. He needed a community badly so we started him at the Gathering Place one day a week. From the first day when he was met with a smile at the car I knew it was the right move! After about six months of picking up and dropping off Dad, I knew this would be a good place for me to give my heart. I started volunteering once a week. I did not recognize how much I also needed a community. The volunteers and the participants become a family for the day. We laugh a lot, sometimes we cry, we are always busy. Every single person there has a sense of purpose and a place where they belong. My husband volunteers at the Gathering Place as well now. The Gathering Place has given my family an unexpected gift that helps us heal from the the losses dementia has brought to our lives.
After retiring I was looking for a place to do some volunteer work. There were quite a few options available but after an initial training session — at St Paul’s — I chose The Gathering Place and am very happy that I did. It has been a truly rewarding experience for me to work with the participants as well as other volunteers. It is a very pleasant feeling to see smiling faces after completing a project or a task. Thank you Gathering Place!
My volunteer days with The Gathering Place began in April of 2010. I had retired in July of 2009 and decided to give myself at least 6 months before choosing a place to volunteer. That’s about the time I’d seen an ad in the local paper for help being needed for this fairly new program called ‘The Gathering Place’ which was based on a Social Model for folks dealing with early to moderate memory issues. Being a nurse for nearly 43 years, I knew I’d always enjoyed working with people, therefore this seemed to be a perfect fit and yes, it’s been a gift to me for 13 years, minus the year of Covid in 2020. During this 13 year time frame I’ve seen many changes in volunteers and participants but the bottom line has always been the same. We become like a family and always look out for, love and support not only the participants but the other volunteers and staff too. Our days are very well planned out by our day leaders including lots of fun activities and entertainment. The day follows a pattern which gives a comfort level to both the participants and we volunteers. Each day always proves to be a day of enjoyment, some form of education and lots of laughter and smiles.
The Gathering Place itself is blessed to have the most wonderful and caring staff who give so much of their time and talents. We as volunteers are truly appreciated be every one of them.
An additional gift is having a wonderful space for this program at St. Paul Lutheran church in Sheboygan Falls all these years and more recently Good Shephard Lutheran Church in Sheboygan . It feels like a second home when entering for a day of volunteering.
I enjoy brightening the day of our participants and volunteers, but walk away with them having brightened mine far more. Our participants and volunteers, teach us about the past and show love and kindness each day. Together we enjoy our time together and look forward to the days ahead.
I love volunteering at the Gathering Place each week. It is a joy to see the smiles on the participants faces when we greet them at the door or when they step off the bus. The variety of activities planned each day brings them joy and the friendships they share with each other is heartwarming. I also enjoy spending time with the other volunteers. We make a great team, we all have fun together while giving the participants caregivers a well deserved break.
My husband has been coming for the last 7 years and it’s been the best thing for us. We feel like a family there with all the love and support we are receiving and hugs and laughter. The Gathering Place is is a blessing for me to know that he is safe being there.
We were playing Bunko and up to shaking 5s. One of the participant’s did not get a five, but with a sly smile said, “I have a 3 and 2, that makes 5”. That is one of the sparks that keeps us coming back.
I felt the pull of TGP to do something productive after ending a working life. What better way than spending time with friends enjoying varied crafts, music, and activities with a lunch thrown in!