What an exciting month we have had at The Gathering Plae at St. John’s! We have felt some new energy as we have moved into the summer months. There is so much potential to meet children, families and seniors with the help of warmer temperatures, sunshine and finances to spend thanks to our Miami County Foundation grant.

Most recently we hosted an “Ice Cream Party” for our community on June 18 from noon to 2:00 pm, which was a huge success! For this event The Gathering Place Team, Christian Education, Membership & Outreach Committee and our Beloved Community worked together to plan and execute this community outreach. To advertise there were several avenues taken: handing out flyers door-to-door in the church’s immediate neighborhood, St. John’s Facebook page, Moms of Troy Facebook page, NextDoor app, having a contact at Partners in Hope and word of mouth. It appeared that each method was beneficial because each was mentioned at least once while talking with attendees.

Set-up began at 10:00 am and there were several people from our church community to assist. Food and grilling were supplied by the Rademachir and Wittman families. Ginny B. worked to create our chalk sign to be displayed on the sidewalk in front of TGP. In total we used 6 tables, about 16 chairs and both wooden picnic tables. We utilized a pop up shelter for shade (from the Reives) with a table and chairs for a space to get out of the sun. One table with 4 chairs was used for painting rocks. Joyce H., Betty S., Sharon W. and Nancy S. sat with the children as they created art on rocks to take home or to leave for our future rock garden located at the back of our playground. One table was used for food as Bruce R. grilled with the help of Lori R. and Dustin W. Both picnic tables and one table were used for dining purposes. One table was used for ice cream. Sharon W. provided delicious strawberry ice cream and Betty S. baked dozens of cookies to share. Chris R. and John G. scooped ice cream and added sprinkles to many bowls and cones. One table was used for a simple craft provided by Becky P. Ava (Melissa S. daughter) and her friend helped to facilitate this craft. As it can be seen, this event was touched by many hands in our Beloved Community and we came together beautifully to serve

It is felt that the attendance for this event was very good! Our first families arrived at 11:45 am. We had upwards of 15 families present, along-side a big percentage of our Beloved Community. At one time, 62 people were counted on the playground! It is estimated that close to 80 attended in total. There were children ranging from 9 weeks to 12 years old and adults of all ages! It was noted that each visiting family had a touch point with at least one individual from our Beloved Community. The tone of the day was welcoming and joyful. It really was powerful to see the vision of The Gathering Place being experienced in real time!

There is quite a bit to look forward to within the next month. Starting this week, a parenting group from Partners in Hope will be meeting at TGP. It will be determined later if these meetings will include their children in future meetings. There is a wonderful possibility that we could provide additional support to these families in some way. Also, Play Café will continue through the summer. Different times and days of the week will be offered to try
and meet availability of more families. We are also on the search for art and nature classes to offer our community to satisfy the specifics of our grant from Miami County Foundation. We are also going to continue discussions about hosting National Night Out by having a block party in August. We are really hoping that we see some faces return as we offer these upcoming experiences.

Respectfully submitted,
Ashley Reed, TGP Team Member