First Person: A community breakfast celebrates its first anniversary
Coffee and company. It’s an idea that started with two Rhinelander women, Mary Taylor and Nancy Smith, who wanted community members to have a place and a reason to get together and chat. That program is nearing its one year anniversary and has grown beyond its humble beginnings into something much more. We spoke with Nancy Smith about the program and what’s in store for the future.
Hodag Buyers’ Guide: What was the program like a year ago?
Nancy Smith: Mary and I had the idea of just getting people together. We started “Coffee and Company” and were open once a month at the Kids In Need location downtown. We served free coffee, hot chocolate and donuts. The program was, and still is, open to everyone. We served about 8-10 people each month.
HBG: How did the program expand?
NS: We wanted to do more, have more people involved; our goal was to serve a hot breakfast. A group from Leadership Oneida County chose us as a project and helped us secure the VFW hall as our breakfast location. We also began to receive donations from the Rhinelander Area Food Pantry and Ruby’s Pantry. We served our first free hot breakfast at the VFW Hall in April, and increased our serving days from one day to two – the first and third Wednesdays of each month. Last week we served 41 people, which is a record high for us. Because of the donations, we are able to serve French toast, sausage, eggs, hash browns, biscuits and gravy – it’s really wonderful.
HBG: What are your plans for the future?
NS: Our goal is to serve a hot breakfast once a week, and to see the numbers served increase. We started with a few older people stopping in, and now we have younger people, and folks who didn’t know each other engaging in conversation. We are looking for more volunteers. It’s really not work; Mary and I get so much from this program, we’re hoping we can encourage other community members to step forward.
The free breakfast is held the first and third Wednesdays from 8 to 10 a.m. at the VFW Hall, 120 E. Park Street. There will be cake to celebrate the first year anniversary November 19. Anyone wishing to volunteer to help serve can call Nancy Smith at 715-282-5465.