- David Brown, co-founder of The Gathering Tree, talks about what The Gathering Tree is and how they help the homeless in Springfield.
- “We had two goals: one was to get people off the street and the other was to get to know them,” said Brown.
- The Gathering Tree is working to reduced the number of homeless in Springfield who wander around downtown with nowhere to go.
- Their Eden Village project is a step further in providing a community for chronically homeless and making Springfield a better place for the homeless.
The Gathering Tree continues to help the homeless with new project, Eden Village
The year 2017 is shaping up to be an important year for The Gathering Tree. They have just received the first home for their chronically homeless community. This is the first of 30 homes they look to have by the end of the year.
The Gathering Tree is a non-profit focused on helping the homeless in downtown Springfield. They are located at 634 W. Wall St.
The group was founded by David and Linda Brown in 2010. With others from their church, they originally provided the chronically homeless a place to meet once a week. This went on for six years before they reopened at The Vineyard Church for three hours, five days a week.
“We had two goals: one was to get people off the street and the other was to get to know them,” David Brown said.
In result of getting to know them they learned about homelessness, why these people were homeless and their individual stories.
The Gathering Tree offers a safe place for these homeless to meet and develop relationships. It also provides computers and access to the internet. They also serve prepackaged snacks and coffee, iced tea and other drinks.
If people want to volunteer, they should be comforted knowing there is security who check for weapons and containers before entering. Security cameras are present on the inside and out of building. Volunteers are wanted to come and listen to these chronically homeless.
Last year, The Gathering Tree purchased a 4.5 acre plot of land with the idea to build a tiny home community for chronically homeless. The piece of land was formerly a home for trailer parks. The zoning requires that manufactured homes are on the property so they decided to buy the homes instead. When finished they plan to have 30 homes along with a community building.
These homes will be constructed in Athens, Texas by Champion Homes. They will cost $30,000 each. The first one was paid for by Judy Huntsman of Coldwell Banker real estate.
“They’ll have ownership in it, they’ll help us take care of it, and they’ll pay some rent,” David Brown said.
A lot of the people who will qualify to live in the community will get a monthly disability payment. This is how The Gathering Tree expects the residents to pay. Their rent will be based on how much they get.
Along with a home, there will be multiple services offered to residents. The village will have different mental health professionals such as social work case managers, nurses and psychiatrists. There will be a community building where they can meet and socialize with others.
“Our timeline probably is about a year out.” said David Brown.
The group has applied for a grant that would pay for quite a few houses. If they can get the community building and 10 houses built, that would help the community succeed.
The first house recently arrived on Friday, April 7. The Gathering Tree is planning to have a grand unveiling on Saturday, May 6. This will allow the public a chance to see a preview of what the group plans to do in upcoming months.
Until then they are continuing to look for further donations to keep the Eden Village project on schedule for its timeline.