A number of groups and individuals in Surry have run into a brick wall when looking for a space that could comfortably accommodate activities such as adult education, support groups, book clubs, presentations, talent shows, community potlucks, local foods, art classes, exercise groups, game nights, senior coffee clubs and children’s play groups.
This is why we have support from the town selectmen, town committees, local businesses and other nonprofits in the area. Our plans have been embraced by senior citizens who want more social opportunities but aren’t comfortable driving all the way to Ellsworth or Blue Hill, especially at night. Low-income families often don’t have the gas money to get to such opportunities outside of Surry. And families with young children are seeking a place where adults can find opportunities for support, enrichment and to share their talents in a place that also offers a separate, safe environment for the kids.
The Gatherings has succeeded in purchasing a building with a large room downstairs that will be set up with movable furniture to create a large meeting room, small performance venue or party room. A smaller room will serve as an informal cafe where people can meet neighbors for a cup of tea or game of scrabble. Exercise equipment will be available in one room and a lending library will occupy a small book nook. Another room will cater especially to the younger members of our community with space for activities such as crafts, reading, Legos, board games and maybe even a ping-pong table. Having this safe place near the main room will make it possible for more parents to participate in community activities.
Centrally located across the street from the post office, the property also has its own parking lot and enough land to accommodate additional parking if necessary. The large lawn is perfect for outdoor games and holiday activities.
We have already raised over $100,000 for the down payment, start-up costs and most of the renovations on the first floor. In order to finish the ground floor and renovate the second floor, we need to raise an additional $20,000. More than a dozen volunteers have already gotten to work, and we hope that others can help us take our next step with additional donations.
A group of approximately thirty Surry residents have come together with a core group of 10 – 12 meeting every week or two since the late spring of 2014 to discuss our shared interest in developing and maintaining a vibrant multi-use community center. The town of Surry currently has no such place and community activities are dependent upon space in the local school when it’s available or historic buildings that are not winterized and / or lack plumbing and /or would require major structural renovations. The Gatherings incorporated as a nonprofit and received 501c3 tax-exempt status in 2015. After considering the renovation of historic buildings in town or building something from scratch, the group determined that those options would require more time and money than was feasible and that needs would be best met by purchasing the property that previously housed the Blue Moon Gallery, as it can accommodate a variety of uses and is centrally located in Surry Village. The property was purchased in October 2015 and the grand-opening of the ground floor was the following spring.