Skip to content

The Gathering

It is like the seed put in the soil - the more one sows, the greater the harvest.

--Orison Swett Marden

The Gathering is a program of Home- and Community-Based Services, serving people experiencing early- to mid-stage memory loss and giving respite to caregivers who desire a break. The program is offered in collaborative partnerships with churches who provide the facilities and host The Gathering.

What is the purpose of The Gathering?

  • Provides a safe and enjoyable place for individuals who are experiencing early- to mid-stage memory loss.
  • Offers planned programming with social and cognitive stimulation.
  • Presents a time of respite to caregivers who need a break.
  • Gives volunteers the opportunity to serve their community.

Who can attend The Gathering?

An assessment with a professional Gathering staff (MSW or RN) determines appropriateness for this social model program and caregiver/participant’s commitment for attendance. To maintain the integrity of the program’s structure, The Gathering does not accommodate drop-ins or visitors.
The Gathering does not discriminate based on race, color, religion, age, gender, handicap,
familial status, or national origin.

How can I get involved in The Gathering?

To learn how to volunteer for or participate in The Gathering, contact Betsy Hoffman at (651) 414-5291 or

Learn more about how to become part of a new consortium of churches for The Gathering in St. Paul. 

For organizations interested in implementing their own group respite program, please read about First Circle Friends, a program model adapted from The Gathering.

Staff Contact Information:

Lisa Brown, MSW
The Gathering Site Liaison
(612) 559-3646
Betsy Hoffman
The Gathering Assistant Coordinator
(651) 414-5291
Carolyn Klaver, RN
The Gathering Coordinator
(952) 261-5235

Special Feature: 

If We Forget ... Wisdom and Reflections from Those Living with Memory Loss, a book dedicated to all persons with memory loss and all those who care for them.  Lyngblomsten and Oak Knoll Lutheran Church (Minnetonka, MN) worked together to create this book which compiles the voices of The Gathering participants at Oak Knoll, sharing what they want others to know about people with memory loss.  If you are interested in purchasing a book for yourself or a loved one, there are 3 ways to order:

  1. Online:  Amazon OR CreateSpace; $10 each
  2. Pick up a copy at Oak Knoll Lutheran Church, lcoated at 600 Hopkins Crossroad, Minnetonka, MN; $10 each (Office hours:  M-Thurs 9 AM – 4 PM, Fridays 9 AM – noon)
  3. Send a check (address above) made out to Oak Knoll Lutheran Church for $13 ($10 plus $3 for shipping and handling).

Questions about this project or how to order a book?  Call (763) 546-4630

How often and where does The Gathering meet?

The Gathering meets from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM at the sites and frequencies as noted below.

Minneapolis Consortium of The Gathering

Offered 1st & 3rd or 2nd & 4th Thursdays at Bethlehem Lutheran Church
4100 Lyndale Ave S., Minneapolis, MN 55409

Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Minneapolis

Lynhurst United Church of Christ, Minneapolis

First Universalist Church, Minneapolis

St. Joan of Arc, Minneapolis

Judson Memorial Baptist Church, Minneapolis

St. John's Lutheran Church, Minneapolis

Lutheran Church of Christ the Redeemer, Minneapolis


North Central Consortium of The Gathering

Offered 2nd & 4th Tuesdays at Centennial United Methodist Church
1524 W County Rd C2, Roseville, MN 55113

Incarnation Lutheran Church, Shoreview

St. Timothy Lutheran Church, St. Paul

Nativity of Our Lord, St. Paul

Northeast Consortium of The Gathering

Offered 1st & 3rd Thursdays at First Presbyterian Church
4821 Bloom Ave, White Bear Lake, MN 55110

Offered 2nd & 4th Thursdays at White Bear Lake United Methodist Church
1851 Birch St, White Bear Lake, MN 55110

Offered 5th Thursdays at Parkview United Church of Christ
3737 Bellaire Ave, White Bear Lake, MN 55110

Christ the King Lutheran Church, White Bear Lake

St. John’s Episcopal Church, White Bear Lake

First Presbyterian Church, White Bear Lake

St. Mary of the Lake, White Bear Lake

North Presbyterian Church, North St Paul

St. Pius X, White Bear Lake

Parkview United Church of Christ, White Bear Lake

St. Stephen Lutheran Church, White Bear Lake

Redeemer Lutheran Church, White Bear Lake

White Bear Lake United Methodist Church, White Bear Lake

Northwest Consortium of The Gathering

Offered 1st & 3rd Thursdays at Oak Knoll Lutheran Church
600 Hopkins Crossroad, Minnetonka, MN 55305

Offered 2nd & 4th Thursdays at Calvary Lutheran Church
7520 Golden Valley Rd, Golden Valley, MN 55427

Calvary Lutheran Church, Golden Valley

St. Joseph’s Parish, New Hope

Oak Knoll Lutheran Church, Minnetonka

St. Philip the Deacon, Plymouth

St. Barnabas Lutheran Church, Plymouth


Southeast Consortium of The Gathering

Offered 2nd & 4th Tuesdays at Salem Lutheran Church
11 W. Bernard St, West St. Paul, MN 55118

Amazing Grace Lutheran Church, Inver Grove Heights

Salem Lutheran Church, West St. Paul

Church of St. Joseph, West St. Paul

Faith United Methodist Church, West St. Paul

Stand-alone Sites

Augustana Lutheran Church, West St. Paul
Offered 1st & 3rd Tuesdays at Augustana Lutheran Church
1400 S. Robert St, West St. Paul, MN 55118

Coming Soon:
East Consortium of The Gathering

Offered 2nd & 4th Tuesdays at Woodbury Baptist Church
6695 Upper Afton Road, Woodbury, MN 55125 

How much does it cost to participate?

The cost of The Gathering is shared between the caregiver, Lyngblomsten and the churches in partnership with The Gathering. The amount caregivers pay helps defray the costs for The Gathering day, which runs from 10 AM to 3 PM each Gathering. Bills are sent to caregivers monthly.

What can I expect at The Gathering?

Participants arrive at the site by 10:00 AM for coffee and conversation and enjoy a morning of activities. Following lunch, participants are involved in another series of stimulating activities and socialization.

Activities during the 5-hour day may include music, creative projects/small motor activities (woodworking, painting, crafts, etc.), discussion groups, reminiscing, exercise (as appropriate for individual abilities), or guest speakers (on a variety of topics/activities including art, music, animal exhibits, etc.).

Under the guidance of a professional Gathering staff (MSW or RN), The Gathering is staffed by dedicated volunteers who have been specially trained to understand the distinctive needs of persons experiencing memory loss. There is one volunteer for every participant.

Each Gathering accommodates about 10 participants. The program fee covers lunch, snacks and activities for the participant.

Who benefits from The Gathering?


Participants enjoy fellowship, food, and stimulating activities and helps prevent the isolation that so often happens to people who have memory loss.

This is my social club. I get to visit, laugh, sing, and have an enjoyable day.

--Margaret S., Participant


Lyngblomsten provides a professional Gathering staff (MSW or RN) who journey alongside caregivers as resource needs arise. Caregivers appreciate the opportunity to have five hours of respite and feel comfortable knowing their loved one is in a safe, stimulating environment.

For me, it is a blessing to see her involved in something she enjoys, looks forward to, and leaves with warm feelings. This fills a niche I cannot provide.



Trained volunteers complete comprehensive training by the RN Coordinator with ongoing continuing education to remain current in meeting the needs of those with memory loss. Volunteers plan the program activities to promote the participants’ socialization and mental stimulation.
Coming from all walks of life and a variety of experiences and gifts, volunteers are happy and feel called to serve.

“Having been a caregiver most of my life, The Gathering is another extension of God’s purpose for me. It is a very satisfying experience especially when visiting with the participants and family members.”


Why respite for caregivers?

If you don’t make time to take care of yourself, who will?

To be effective, caregivers need a break now and then.

One in eight people in the United States aged 65 years and older has Alzheimer’s disease. Every 69 seconds someone in America develops Alzheimer’s disease. By mid-century, someone will develop the disease every 33 seconds.

[2010 Alzheimer’s Facts and Figures, Alzheimer’s Association]

Caregivers of persons with Alzheimer’s disease shoulder a particularly heavy burden of care. Compared with other types of caregivers, the type of care they provide is more physically and emotionally demanding, more time consuming, and takes a heavier toll on work and family life.

[2009 Alzheimer’s Facts and Figures, Alzheimer’s Association]

This is why Lyngblomsten is so committed to caregivers. One way we support caregivers through The Gathering is by providing a professional Gathering staff (MSW or RN) to journey alongside caregivers as resource needs arise.

Help yourself help your loved one. If you don’t take care of yourself as a caregiver, how will you be able to take care of your loved one? You are NOT being selfish if you take a break to rest, or meet a friend for lunch, or use the time to get the oil changed in the car, or take care of other tasks that you can’t otherwise do when providing constant care for your loved one.

Self-care matters. Add years to your life so that you can be there for those you love and who love you.


Caregivers Support Groups

Golden Valley, MN
Meets the 2nd Tuesday of the month, 10:00 AM
Location: Calvary Lutheran Church, 7520 Golden Valley Road
Facilitator: Becky Clifford
Phone Number: (612) 670-0296
Group Type: Caregivers 

White Bear Lake, MN
Meets the first Thursday of the month, 10:00 AM
Location: First Presbyterian Church
Facilitator:  Joan McGrath
Phone Number: (651) 429-5218
Group Type: Caregivers

West St. Paul, MN

Meets the 1st Tuesdays of the month, 10:00 AM
Location: Augustana Lutheran Church
Facilitator: Sherry Simpson
Phone Number: (651) 739-2114
Group Type: Caregivers

Funding for The Gathering is provided through grants and by the generosity of individuals who make financial gifts to the Lyngblomsten Foundation.  It is also funded in part by the Older Americans Act Title IIIE National Family Caregiver Support Program in partnership with the Metropolitan Area Agency on Aging.

If you would like to make a donation/memorial gift to support The Gathering , contact the Lyngblomsten Foundation at (651) 632-5324, or visit the Lyngblomsten Foundation page.