Unleashing Creativity, Transforming Lives: The Impactful Journey of Gather Make Shelter

At Truly Bookkeeping, we’re honored to shine a spotlight on the incredible mission of Gather Make Shelter (GMS), a nonprofit that’s rewriting the narrative for those experiencing houselessness and poverty in Portland, Oregon.

The Heart of GMS: A Mission to Empower Through Art

Founded in 2017, GMS stands as a beacon of hope, striving to create opportunities for individuals facing homelessness.. Beyond the essential needs of shelter and sustenance, GMS believes in the power of community and creativity. Through collaborative projects in various creative fields, GMS participants not only develop artistic talents and employable skills but also foster self-confidence, well-being, and a path to financial stability and permanent housing.

A Grateful Recognition: The Andy Warhol Award

GMS recently received the prestigious Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts award, a two-year programming grant that supports the artistic and personal development of participating artists. This grant has been pivotal in facilitating mentorship programs, murals, gardens, and numerous workshops, allowing GMS to make a meaningful impact on the lives of unhoused artists across the city. A 2023 programming highlight was “The Joy Project: Re-envisioning Portland with Love.” Throughout the year, GMS led 40 workshops at 10 partner organizations across the city for unhoused artists to paint their dreams of home on 100 house sculptures. The sculptures were presented at an exhibition and outdoor festival in the city’s living room, Pioneer Courthouse Square. A thousand attendees flocked to see the artworks and learn about opportunities for creative solutions and collaboration. With support from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and other funders, GMS can look forward to another year of programming that celebrates our shared humanity through art. 

The Power of Collaboration: Truly Bookkeeping and GMS

Collaboration is at the core of GMS, and Truly Bookkeeping is proud to be part of this transformative journey. By pooling talents and resources, GMS and Truly Bookkeeping aim to create a positive and lasting impact on the community they serve. Through strategic partnerships, including those with organizations like Truly Bookkeeping, GMS can extend its reach and bring creative solutions to more individuals.

Inspiring Moments and Transformations

Every day with GMS brings inspiring moments, one stand out experience was helping Aileen, a lifelong artist who rediscovered her creative path through taking GMS workshops. Witnessing her process of empowerment through career development and a move to permanent housing reminds us of the transformative power of gathering together in a creative community. Recently, a day shelter visitor of GMS shared their sketchbook overflowing with beautifully dynamic drawings. Cherished among their few possessions, their sketchbook was a lifeline. This experience led GMS to launch a new workshop series that provides sketchbooks, materials and instruction and demonstrates GMS’s commitment to creating safe spaces for artistic expression, reducing stress, and empowering individuals to explore their journeys, dreams, and aspirations.

A Glimpse into the Future: Exciting Projects Ahead

GMS has a multitude of exciting projects in store for 2024, including workshops with master printer Paul Mullowney, a valentine printing and art exchange project, a summer art camp, a fashion show at the Portland Pride Festival, mural and garden expansions to new villages, and a national book and exhibition tour featuring GMS artists!

At Truly Bookkeeping, we stand with Gather Make Shelter in their mission to nurture creativity, build community, and empower lives. Together, we look forward to a future where every individual, regardless of their housing situation, has the opportunity to flourish through the transformative power of art. Join us in supporting GMS’s impactful initiatives and be a part of a community that believes in the potential for positive change through creativity. Read more about GMS’s inspiring journey here. 

Wishing you creativity, community, and empowerment,

Kelli Bagby  

Founder, Truly Bookkeeping