Gathering for a cause

First Posted: 10/28/2014

Impressive, incredible, thrilled and inspiring are some of the adjectives Dori Waters, The Gathering Place board of directors’ president, used to describe the turnout at The Gathering Hour, a first ever fundraiser held on Oct. 19 to help raise money for The Gathering Place, a proposed community center.

“I’m so thrilled to see such a wonderful mixed crowd of people,” said Waters during the reception held at the future home of The Gathering Place, a vacant space located on the first floor of the Clarks Summit Borough Building.

Waters noted approximately 130 supporters attended the event.

The Gathering Place is a collaborative effort of the Abington Area Community Classroom, Deustch Institute and Verve Vertu Art Studio in Dallas and will be a hub and venue for local artists, authors and musicians. Verve Vertu, described as an “arts apprenticeship that taps into the creative energy of people with special needs,” will have a satellite location at The Gathering Place.

A silent and live auction, food and beverages and live musical entertainment by Christian Gratz were part of the evening’s lineup.

The fundraiser was just the tip of the iceberg for the proposed center.

“The next step is to raise the necessary funds and then we’ll start working on the rest after that…,” said Waters.

Prior to the reception held Oct. 19, Waters said the committee has raised $120,000 towards its goal of $300,000. The money was derived from foundation grants, private donations and a $30,000 grant from Lackawanna County.

Her vision for The Gathering Place began to take shape several years ago when she owned a retail shop on Depot Street in Clarks Summit.

“I really didn’t like selling things, but I liked running classes. So, when I closed my shop I wanted to find a way to continue to run classes. I gathered a group of my friends together and we started organizing the classes,” she saud. “We needed a space and that’s when we focused on the fire house (project).”

Waters is co-founder of the Abington Area Community Classroom (AACC) a non-profit committee of the Abington Area Joint Recreation Board that provides continuing education for adult learners.

The center will include classroom and studio space, comfortable conversation space, coffee bar, bakery, venue for local artists, authors and musicians, location for community events, outlet for other community organizations’ fundraisers and ticket sales, and a community center that develops and supports partnerships throughout the region, actively highlighting local businesses, arts and crafts and regional events.

Marie King was one of the many volunteers who helped at the occasion. “I was approached by Maryann Nichols (The Gathering Place co-founder) to assist with events a bit ago and readily agreed to roll up my sleeves as I think – along with many others – that as AACC has grown, they really need a place to call their own,” she said.

“I’m a big proponent of using old, empty buildings, and retrofitting the old firehouse for a community education center is a great way to help revitalize downtown Clarks Summit. Tasked with collecting money for auction items at the Gathering Hour, I was really impressed with how happy everyone was in participating in making something wonderful happen. You could feel the joy. What a great way – besides the dog park, to make friends in the Abingtons! I’m happy for their success,” King continued.

King and her husband have taken bus trips and dancing classes and she has also taken cooking classes with friends through the AACC.

Waters’ goal for The Gathering Place is “to be a destination where people come here to meet each other and to look at art. I want it to be a place where everyone feels welcome,” she said.

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