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The Gathering Place in Brattleboro. (Kayla Rice/Reformer)

BRATTLEBORO -- In 1987 the Council on Aging for Southeastern Vermont received money from the state to do a feasibility study on starting an adult day program in Brattleboro to serve seniors in Windham County.

The idea of having a facility where seniors could spend the day was relatively new at the time, but the study found that the aging population in southeastern Vermont would be well served by a day program in Brattleboro.

Two years later The Gathering Place opened with two staff members who served six families, three days a week.

On Wednesday, Feb. 26, from 3 to 8 p.m. The Gathering Place will open its doors to the community and celebrate its silver anniversary with an open house and art show at its home at 30 Terrace Street.

"The Gathering Place has been proudly serving the seniors and adults with disabilities of the Windham County region since 1989. Our organization is a vital member of the community in which we live and the surrounding towns in our service area," said Tara Cheney, Gathering Place program supervisor. "The Gathering Place offers a myriad of activities to bring health, fun, laughter and companionship, as well as independence and a sense of belonging to the lives of our participants, and peace of mind to their families."

The Gathering Place is an adult day program that provides a safe and stimulating environment for seniors and disabled adults.

When The Gathering Place first opened it was a program of the Council on Aging in Southeastern Vermont. By its first year The Gathering Place was serving 26 families, with an average daily census of 6.5, and by 1992 the organization had grown and was serving 45 families and averaging 10.2 participants every day.

Carolyn Stoughton is the volunteer coordinator at The Gathering Place and she was hired in 1991.

Stoughton was getting a degree in gerentology before she was hired and she first visited the Gathering Place during the organization's first few years.

"I though it was such an undertaking, but the people who worked there had such a passion for what they were doing," Stoughton said. "It is amazing to see how it had grown over all these years."

The Gathering Place quickly outgrew the small room it was renting at Hilltop House and in 2000 moved to Brattleboro West Plaza, where it shared a building with C&S Wholesalers.

In October 2001 The Gathering Place purchased its new home on Terrace Street from the Eagles and after extensive renovations, moved in the following year.

Stoughton has a list of about 35 volunteers who come in throughout the month to offer art, music, reading, or other services.

"We could not do what we do without our volunteers," she said. "We have volunteers who have been coming for years. They love what they do and our participants love having them come visit."

The Gathering Place's steady growth over the years shows that the need is there for a day program in Brattleboro, Stoughton said.

"I constantly see people come in who are frail and isolated and they grow and open up while they are here," she said. "They blossom here at The Gathering Place. I know it is the right place for seniors."

Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 279, or hwtisman@reformer.com. Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardReformer.