Coffee and conversations have been flowing for a year with area veterans from all branches of the military.
The one year anniversary of the Roscommon County Veterans Coffee Hour was celebrated Jan. 3 with about 34 veterans and organizers at the Roscommon County Blodgett Memorial Airport. The monthly Coffee Hour was created by the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) of the Northeast Michigan Community Service Agency (NEMCSA), Roscommon County, the Roscommon County Community Foundation, and the Roscommon County Blodgett Memorial Airport.
“We have so many veterans in the area who have stories to tell and experiences to share with other veterans,” said Persis Sopariwala, RSVP Services Coordinator. “This is a chance for us to show our appreciation for their service, as well as their opportunity to make connections.”
According to Sopariwala, the Coffee Hour is just that – there aren’t any guest speakers and there is no agenda – just lots of coffee, donuts, and comradery. Veterans can come and go as they please, she said. It meets at 9 a.m. the first Thursday of the month at the Roscommon County Airport.
Picture information: Eric Jaroch, Roscommon County Airport Manager; Persis Sopariwala, RSVP Services Coordinator; and Suzanne Luck, Roscommon County Community Foundation Executive Director, look at a calendar to select a date for an upcoming family-friendly veterans event. With the success of the monthly Coffee Hour, they are planning to have more activities.
The Coffee Hour was launched January of 2018, with 31 veterans and support people dropping in to enjoy coffee and donuts at the Roscommon County Airport. Fast-forward to one year later, and it has hosted 106 unduplicated veterans, most of whom attend the Coffee Hour multiple months out of the year. On average, there were about 36 attendees each month in 2018, but organizers would like to see it expand.
“Our hope is to continue to grow this program and reach out to some of the younger veterans,” Sopariwala said. Fellow organizer and RSVP volunteer Kevin Sherman is in agreement.
“As a veteran who was an accredited Service Officer for the county, the need for younger veterans returning from deployment to be involved with their community is strong and needed,” Sherman said.
Organizers are working to plan events that will bring together veterans and their families. Last year, the Coffee Hour organizers partnered with the Roscommon Area Pilots Association to hold a Veterans Appreciation Day on Aug. 4, where veterans and their families received plane rides and a light lunch at the airport. Due to the success of the event, the organizers are hoping to host another family-friendly event at the airport in the next few months – stay tuned for more info!
"We are hoping a summer and winter weekend family activity will be the opportunity for these veterans to meet each other, share their experiences coming home, and begin learning about services available to them in Roscommon County,” Sherman said.
The success of the monthly gathering is due in part to the many people and organizations that sponsor the cost of donuts and coffee. Please contact Persis at SopariwalaP@nemcsa.org or 989-281-1505 if you are interested in sponsoring a month, or have any questions about the Coffee Hour.