Being immunized against COVID-19 bolstered the confidence of the group, made up of about 20 men and women, most of them retirement age. They’re finally feeling it’s safe to gather again, said Betty Kroke, Bernice Ferguson Community Library part-time librarian.
“I think, basically, everyone here is vaccinated,” Kroke said. She had no qualms about getting the vaccination.
“Didn’t want to get COVID,” she said.
Larry Hoverson, part of the coffee group since it was formed about 10 years ago, calls it “a relief” to be fully vaccinated and able to visit again with his friends, including the two who sat on either side of him – Lonnie Anderson and O’Neal Johnson.
“We were shut down all summer. We kind of missed the crowd here. That’s where we learn everything about life. The best thing about a deal like this, we keep politics out of it,” Hoverson said with a grin.
Instead, the group’s members talk about uncontroversial topics, such as the weather, and reminisce about past places and events.
“We learn a lot here,” Hoverson said.
For example, Johnson, 86, and the oldest member of the group, has a wealth of knowledge about the history of Nelson County, Hoverson said.
“I’m kind of the senior member of the group, so I get a lot of respect,” Johnson said.
Lois Tallman, meanwhile, a National Weather Service observer, gives the coffee group precipitation updates.
Tallman and her husband, Darwin, celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in late March by going to the Tuesday coffee group. It was a logical choice, since the Tallmans knew the mall would be open and they enjoy visiting with the group’s members.
“We were with our friends,” Lisa Tallman said.
Across the table from Tallman, Norma Vasichek talked about the way that being part of the coffee group helps ease the loneliness she’s felt since her husband’s death in February 2020.
“You know how everybody was so isolated this winter. It’s so nice to get together,” Vasichek said.
Janice Schmidt, who drove from her home in Petersburg, N.D., about six miles east of Michigan, to join the coffee group, is grateful to Nelson County Public Health for making the COVID-19 vaccinations readily available.
“I think about Nelson County Public Health, how good they were to get it out to us,” Schmidt said.
“You could call over there and make an appointment, and they were very efficient,” said Jan Sonderland, who also traveled from Petersburg to join the group.
Both women enjoy dropping in for coffee with their Michigan “neighbors,” they said.
“We’re not regulars, but we feel welcome,” Sonderland said.
The feeling of being welcomed is why Anderson decided to join the coffee group.
“When I come here, I sit down, have a cup of coffee and a brownie,” he said. “I feel good.”
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