The Gathering Place helps people during extreme temps

By: Megan Palera

The gathering place is only open a few hours a day, but those few hours can make all the difference for someone stuck out in the heat all day long.

Meet Ty and Joey. Two men who have spent the past couple months sleeping in a tent behind McDonald's. “Try and find shade or places I can go into to cool off for a second or a minute, it helps out,” said Joey.

This time, help is coming from the “Gathering Place.” It's the first time these friends have made their way to the soup kitchen in central Lincoln. Turns out, it's just down the street from Ty's new air-conditioned apartment that he was fortunate enough to move into Sunday.

But Joey, like many others here who don't have AC, still struggles to stay cool during the day. Open from four to six every week night, this soup kitchen has become their temporary relief.

“People come in for water, coffee and iced tea and get out of the direct sun. They can either sit in here in the air condition or out on our porch. We have a breeze most days,” said Director of the Gathering Place, Michael Ryan.

Typically during the extreme heat, the number of people visiting the soup kitchen drops. But not this summer, numbers are still high and on track to set a new record of 33,000 meals served this year. “Last year, 2011 was a record year and we're on pace to shatter that record,” said Ryan.

It may only be a few hours a day, but warm food and a cool building are sometimes the only thing those less fortunate have to look forward to.

The Gathering Place is run almost entirely on donations, and with more people relying on its services, the need for more donations is also there.