The inspiration to create a place to gather with friends and participate in enrichment activities was Megan Ferris, a small redheaded gal full of love and hugs. She is the daughter of Port Townsend residents Linda and Bob Ferris. Megan was a graduate of the Port Townsend High School Special Education program, class of '94, who had significant developmental delays. The nonprofit organization, gatheringplace, was incorporated on July 11, l994 initially as a private residence to secure an independent future for Megan and one or two additional adults needing quality, supervised living. Soon, it became very apparent that daytime activities were needed in the local community and Jefferson County for adults with development disabilities.
There were individuals with developmental disabilities in Jefferson County who had graduated from the public school system and were unable to function in a work place. As a result, the Life Skills component of gatheringplace was created in March of 1996. It was devoted to providing a supportive, learning environment with socialization opportunities where dignity, pride and personal growth would flourish.
Four participants and a volunteer staff of three had fun doing music, crafts, exercise and having lunch together at the Port Townsend Recreation Center for four hours once a week.
Since September 2003, the privately funded program serving thirty participants enjoying one or all of the three program days: Cooking classes on Mondays, Art on Tuesdays and Dog Biscuit production on Fridays now take place at a site at Point Hudson, Port of Port Townsend. Three administrative and five program staff, a volunteer coordinator and many caring volunteers plan and assist a wide variety of enriching activities.
An organic garden is tended by volunteers, participant art work is shown in local galleries each month, gatheringplace products are sold at local stores, festivals and the Port Townsend Farmers' Market throughout the year.
Today's gatheringplace participants have come to include adults with developmental and other disabilities who do not have jobs or may work only a few hours per week, are building skills for future employment, are new to the area and want a fun place to share and explore their talents and retired folks who want to maintain their skills.
If you visit our program, and we hope you will, you will observe a great deal of interaction, laughing and camaraderie. You will see many open, joyous, creative hearts, living and loving "their day", sharing news in their lives.
No labels, no misunderstandings, no thoughts about disability. Each and every individual coming through the doors at gatheringplace is respected for who they are and what gift they have to share there. To witness this unique environment is indeed life changing.