Fundraising push begins

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BRATTLEBORO — After four months, Maggie Lewis is settling into the position of executive director of The Gathering Place just fine.

"I love it," said Lewis, whose group runs adult day service centers in Brattleboro and West Dover. "I feel like the definition of lucky is when opportunity and preparation meet. And I feel like I've been the luckiest person to end up in this position. Since I've been here, we've opened Dover, we've developed new fundraising opportunities, we're bringing in more community education and trying to reach out to more people in the community, hoping they know we're here as a service to them."

During an interview last week, Lewis was expecting to send out a letter soon appealing to about 6,000 Windham County residents with the goal of raising $100,000.

"With expanding our services, our needs are greater and we're hoping the community will continue to support us in our efforts by donating to the annual fund," she said.

Fundraising dollars typically go to scholarships for participants, supplies for therapeutic activities and enhancing programming at the two sites. The Dover site is in need of acoustic paneling and a washer and dryer so the organization does not have to use outside contractors for laundry. A new computer server used for both sites also is needed.

Upcoming events

The Gathering Place is hosting its inaugural Pumpkin Promenade 5K at 10 a.m. Oct. 20. The race will go from the Brattleboro Common to Linden Street to West River Road, also known as Route 30, then turn around at the West River Park.

"I'm really jazzed about this," said Lewis, who expects to have crossing guards and law enforcement officers help at the event. "What's great about it is twofold: If you're running all summer, you're probably going to get your best time because it's flat and paved, which is highly unusual for Vermont, and if you haven't been running because it's too darn hot, there's ample time to gear up between now and then for a 5K."

The cost is $25 per person. Pre-registration can be done now at gatheringplacevt.org. Registration at the event starts at 8:30 a.m. at The Gathering Place at 30 Terrace St.

A half-mile "fun run" starts at 9:30 a.m. Participants can "run, walk, stroll, whatever you want to do," said Lewis, who is encouraging costumes. The recommended donation is $5. Prizes will be awarded. Activities for children will include doughnuts on a string, bowling with gourds, beanbag toss and more. Snacks will be served. Bathrooms will be handicap accessible.

Lewis said she hopes to grow the event over time and eventually host a daylong event.

A jazz concert at Historic Memorial Hall in Wilmington at 8 p.m. Sept. 22 is part of a series to benefit local groups organized by Twice Blessed, a non-profit community organization that helps Deerfield Valley residents. The show is free but all proceeds from donations will go to The Gathering Place. Snacks will be served.

The Brattleboro center will host a holiday craft show from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 8. Lewis said participants came up with the concept.

"Their idea," she said. "They're making it happen."

Crafts, food, jewelry and syrup will be sold. Admission is free.

For those interested in selling goods, the cost to have a table is $25. Call The Gathering Place at 802-254-6559 for more information.

Lewis said the Dover center will have some kind of community event and fundraiser in the winter.

"We would like to give back to the community," said Lewis, whose group is working with local community health teams, the Alzheimer's Association and other organizations to bring educational programs to both sites. "Our goal really is to expand to be a place where people can gather, The Gathering Place. We want people to come learn how to be healthy and be here as a support for caregivers as well as for individuals who need life enrichment because that's what we're here for."

A free talk on dementia will be held 6:30 to 8 p.m. Oct. 11 at the Brattleboro center. Registration is required ahead of time. To do so, call 802-254-6559.

A free discussion series on diabetes management will be held 4 to 6:30 p.m. Thursdays from Oct. 11 to Nov. 15. To register, call Elisha Underwood at 802-257-8867.

Lewis said events will be posted on Facebook and gatheringplacevt.org. She hopes to get visitors to local ski resorts to bring their elderly or disabled family members to the Dover site. She said the cost of a day there is similar to the price of a lift ticket.

Donations can be made online at gatheringplacevt.org or by sending checks to 30 Terrace St., Brattleboro, VT, 05301.

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com, at

@CMaysBR on Twitter and

802-254-2311, ext. 273.

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