A new year-old social organization will host a drive-through barbecue fundraiser to benefit the Community Immigration Law Center this Thursday, September 17, from 4 to 7 pm at Christ Presbyterian Church on East Gorham Street in downtown Madison. The cost is $12 per plate, or $14 with dessert, with tickets available online. All proceeds will benefit the CILC, a free walk-in legal clinic founded in 2009 that provides free and low-cost legal representation for immigrants in Madison and the surrounding area.
GatherX, which director Laura Andrews says is being “incubated” at the campus ministry Pres House, was founded last year to help young people create community and connections after college.
“There was an interest in post-college life, individuals having an opportunity to connect with each other outside of classes,” Andrews said. “I like to consider GatherX as community and relationship-building with intention. So a little bit like networking, but more on a personal level of getting to know each other, finding common ground.”
Andrews said the organization doesn’t have “members,” exactly, but drew up to 100 people at a variety of events before the covid-19 pandemic shut down the events business.
Board member Jayson Shaffer found the organization soon after he relocated to Madison from Dubuque a year ago. He said he chose Madison because of its national reputation as a great place to live and its many opportunities for social interaction.
“There’s always something going on,” he said. He also acknowledged that Madison is not necessarily a great place to live for everyone.
“Our entire country is better for white people to live in,” Shaffer said. “The question we need to be asking is what is Madison doing to counteract that?”
That’s why he said he’s excited that GatherX is taking up the cause of marginalized communities.
“GatherX calls ourselves an all inclusive community,” Shaffer said. “I believe for us to say we are all inclusive we must be actively all inclusive, versus passively inclusive. In order for GatherX to live up to the words all inclusive and to build strong deep connections within its own community, we must act with love, and that includes activism.”
Andrews said several pre-pandemic storytelling events raised money for nonprofits like Outreach LGBT Community Center.
“Our foundation behind GatherX is to help lift up marginalized voices and then also give support to organizations that may or might not be getting the limelight all the time,” she said, but, given that in-person events can’t happen right now, the organization was able to pivot.
“A drive-through barbecue to benefit Community Immigration Law Center was really what we landed on to help organize the community, the GatherX community, but then also the local neighborhoods to support organizations they might not know exist,” Andrews said. “Now at the same time, they might not know that we exist, but we hope that in doing these types of events, people hear more about us and want to be part of the work that we’re doing by supporting other community organizations.”
“We’re still young and we are still learning about ourselves and developing who we are and what we will do with that part of our purpose,” Shaffer said. “But it will come, because we are a group who desires to live out our beliefs, not just profess them. And I am so excited to be a part of that, as well as everything else we are doing to build community and foster deep meaningful relationships and intentional community.”