December 2016

The Gathering Place had an eventful December, with members and staff caroling at The Laurels and Kimes nursing homes to bring holiday cheer to residents on December 19th, December 21st brought annual Christmas/Solstice party with white elephant gift exchange and holiday Karaoke! Fun was had by all and Christmas Day brought a ham dinner with many members enjoying the season together. Our members and staff want to thank everyone who has contributed with donations this month and last, we had amazing turkeys donated by King Family farm for Thanksgiving, a Christmas tree donated by Kroger, and many other community members dropping off treats or sending donations for holiday meals throughout the season!

We are especially grateful to all of the community members who donated financial support in honor of our 40th Anniversary of mental health support in the Athens community, we had a goal of $3,000 and we have more than doubled this goal! Please check out this special edition letter below to see all of our accomplishments this past year and to still donate for the 40th Anniversary!

February 2016

The Gathering Place is a community support program that fosters the recovery of persons with mental illness by providing basic needs, direct services and vital support networks in a homelike environment. Members are connected to secure housing, linkage services to other social service and mental health agencies, healthy food, and meaningful activities. Those we serve see improved overall health, personal development, and increased community involvement. Some of our current programs include Open Art, Music Therapy, Poetry, Relaxation Sessions, Yoga and Fitness, Women's Group, Gardening, and Off-Site Recreational Outings. Our focus for this fund raising campaign will be for art activities and supplies, yoga and fitness, off-site recreational opportunities and staffing for activities.Recently, The Gathering Place was fortunate to receive grants for facility upgrades, providing The GP with additional space, which includes a third-floor multi-purpose room for our health and wellness activities. Our vision has been to make this space an art studio/fitness area. Our dilemma is that our members have a beautiful new space to participate in programming, but currently, we do not have the staffing capacity or other tangible resources to make these programs possible.Open Art is a method of stress relief through creating and designing pieces of artwork, as well as functional household items, such as bird feeders or planters. Creating a work of art provides the artist with a meaningful and productive activity that reduces anxiety and provides a sense of accomplishment. However, art supplies can be very costly, and although many of our projects are upcycled using other materials, The Gathering Place would like to purchase new paints, yarn, and brushes for our members to use.The Gathering Place offers a low-intensity yoga course for members looking to become more physically active. We promote physical health as well as mental health at The GP and understand the positive effects exercise has on the recovery of mental illness. Often times our yoga sessions are led by a recording of a yoga expert. Besides yoga, the members of the GP would like to be able to participate in softball games as well as other relatively low impact sporting events. Your funds would be providing The GP with new recordings of different yoga sessions, yoga mats for members, and sporting equipment.As many of our members are from low-income households without the benefit of funds for leisure activities, our program offers opportunity for healthy community integration activities, such as golfing, bowling, or attending community sponsored art performances. Frequently, The GP also participates in free activities such as Ohio University Sporting events (often times tickets are donated), or trips to the local State Park Strouds Run. However, in the winter, weather conditions are usually too harsh for outdoor activities and funds donated would go towards events with a participation fee as there is little money in our budget for recreational activities.The Gathering Place and its members would greatly appreciate any donation you are willing and able to give to our non-profit

Thank you for your consideration!

January 2016:

We have been busy with upgrades and renovations at The Gathering Place and are excited to

finally have all of the rooms in the house reopened again for the upcoming Holidays and new programming!


Here is a recap of our renovations since late August and improvements we have made. You can check out renovation pictures on our Facebook Page.  Thanks to a lead gift by the O'bleness Foundation and Central Avenue Church in 2013,  we were able to leverage funds from the Osteopathic Heritage Foundation of Nelsonville and the Athens Foundation along with our own Edward Jones accounts, contributed by long time supporters, to give our 115 year old Victorian era house a new face lift!  This has been in our development plan for two years and most renovations were complete by November 2015.  Additonal new funding from Athens Foundation and O'Bleness Foundation this Fall has enabled us to purchase furniture, refinish all flooring and other essential final touches to make 2 phases of our renovations complete. Phase 3 of renovations are in development for FY 2016 and 2017 to replace all windows and update bathrooms. It is essential that the structural integrety of the facility be maintained for future Athenians and our mission. 




*Fully renovated attic space has been converted to a multi-purpose room to be used for our Health and Wellness activities, including art activities, exercise activites, music therapy and band practice, and other wellness workshops. The attic has new insulation, new drywall and paint, a new furnance, lighting, utility sink and refinished floors.  This room gives us 33% more usable space for our mission and we are in process of furnishing with tables, chairs and shelving  designed for an art/work space.


*1st and 2nd Floor Improvements:  

Like all renovations to an older home, we ran into a few unforeseen circumstances due to installing a new HVAC system in basement and first two floors and had to upgrade the old knob and tube wiring in entire house to accomodate  21st Century equipment.  This included replacing 1st Floor ceilings, creating duct systems throughout house that also had to be framed and drywalled and entire rooms re-painted. We also refinished floors on 1st and 2nd floors, created a new resource center for members/volunteers on 2nd floor, bought new office furniture and computers.  We also have purchased new rugs for downstairs and upstairs Quiet Room and our new locally made hardwood table will be delivered this Friday, December 11th! We are also having new downstairs lounge furniture made with hopes that it will arrive by Christmas or the New Year!


Without the support of these foundations and community organizations, we would not have been able to create a facility that will enhance our mission and programming! A functional work area that is aesthetically pleasing and modern is the first step towards continued agency mission growth as we move towards more consumer-driven programming and partnering with local and state agencies on health initiatives, that will forward our mission of serving individuals with a lived experience of mental illness.  Our goal is to also continue advocating for mental health awareness in our Athens area communities and beyond!

April 2016

The Gathering Place is celebrating 40 years of support in the Athens community, 1976-2016. We will be having an Open House for the community on Thursday, April 28th, from 4pm-7pm at our newly renovated facility on 7 North Congress Street. We encourage community members to join us for a tour of our beautiful 3-story Victorian house and to celebrate this milestone with food, live music and a member art show. Additionally, we are pleased to announce the creation of two mental health awards honoring two of our founders, Anne Stempel and Shirley Whan. 

In the 1960's Anne and Shirley joined a group of concerned community members and former mental health patients to form Athens Mental Health Inc. Their grassroots movement provided support to newly discharged mental health patients, who had little to no support living on their own in the Athens community. In 1976, the group wrote a proposal to our local behavioral health board to open up a transitional center where people could form friendships, support, networks, meaningful activity, and receive vital linkage services; and The Gathering Place came into existence

At 5:30pm, there will be a special awards ceremony to recognize community members selected by the Athens Mental Health Board of Trustees, who display the qualities and dedication to The Gathering Place that Anne Stempel and Shirley Whan emobdied Without their lifetime commitment to the mission, The Gathering Place would not exist. 

March 2016

The Gathering Place in partnership with Athens Photographic Project has been selected to be a regional lead in a capacity building project funded by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. The goal of this project is to improve opportunities for consumer engagement and leadership in health and wellness activities within the twenty-one counties served by Appalachian Behavioral Healthcare. Within the next 6-months this project will improve networking amongst consumer-oriented groups; provide a 1-day wellness symposium on June 30, 2016 to be held at Appalachian Behavioral Healthcare; develop a regional webpage to be housed on the OMHAS website, and provide Whole Health Action Management (WHAM) to other COS's in our region, an 8-week peer-to-peer wellness program that focuses on health and goal setting. These activities are supported by OMHAS and are provided at no cost to participants.

Peer-support; health and wellness; and consumer-driven services are becoming widely considered best practices within a comprehensive system of mental health care and we are following the state's lead in setting new practices.

In other Spring News...

This month our members started a group project focused on painting a new mural in our back garden area. The mural concept and design was created and executed by members.