THE BEGINNING OF THE GATHERING TREE
David and Linda Brown saw a need for a drop-in center for the homeless in downtown Springfield during the early evening hours. Together with some friends, they opened one evening a week at The Front Porch, a venue in the heart of downtown. The purpose was two-fold. First, was to provide a safe place for homeless persons to get off the streets for a few hours. Second, was to build relationships and gain a first hand understanding of homelessness.
THE GATHERING TREE MOVED TO 324 S. CAMPBELL
After the first year, The Gathering Tree moved to a different location in the downtown area of Springfield. During this second year, several more individuals became involved in ministering to the homeless and serving meals. They were also able to meet some of the essential needs of their friends.
THE GATHERING TREE OPENED AT 215 S. CAMPBELL
The Gathering Tree obtained a two year lease for their own facility and were able to expand the hours to five evenings a week with the help of many individuals and several organizations. Meals were provided along with essential items such as clothing, personal care items and survival gear. As many as 150+ individuals were served during these evenings.
The Gathering Tree did not renew the lease and took some time off to reassess and redefine its purpose. David, Linda and a few key individuals continued ministering to their homeless friends a couple evenings a week passing out "Brown Bags" of food and other essential items. They were able to continue their relationships with their friends who were truly homeless.
VINEYARD CHURCH BUILDING
The Gathering Tree reopened its evening drop-in center, but more as a coffee shop/library venue. They were able to rest, play card games, use computers, sing karaoke, partake in a bingo evening, take a shower and continue to get essentials they needed to survive on the street.
SITE PURCHASED FOR EDEN VILLAGE
Land was purchased and the formal announcement for the Eden Village Community was made public. For the next several months, many meetings were held and multiple speaking engagements were held sharing the vision of Eden Village throughout the community.
FIRST HOUSE DEDICATED AT EDEN VILLAGE
The first house was purchased, brought on site, set up and decorated. A formal open house was held along with a blessing by the Bishop of the local Catholic Diocese. Finally, Eden Village was a tangible entity of the vision that had been shared for several months.
GROUND BREAKING FOR COMMUNITY BUILDING AT EDEN VILLAGE
Three homes were on site and the infrastructure advanced enough, and funding well enough along for the formal ground breaking and the start of construction of the community building.
GRAND OPENING AND HOUSING OF FIRST RESIDENT AT EDEN VILLAGE
From December to August, the bulk of the construction was completed and on August 28, the Grand Opening of Eden Village was held before a large crowd of supporters and dignitaries. Fourteen houses were on site and the first resident was handed a key to his new home to take up permanent residence and no longer homeless.