Special to The Record
A trip up Ryan Road Hill to a certain big box store may yield free samples of coffee and cookies, but it likely won’t include a serving of stimulating conversation.
For that, you might wish to try the Coffee and Cookies drop-in program at Comox Valley Presbyterian Church. Held the first and third Thursday of every month, at 10:30 a.m., the informal gatherings offer tea or coffee, cookies, and a topic of conversation around which people can freely share their ideas and opinions, learn new things and socialize in a welcoming space.
Topics in the past have included the environment, earthquake preparedness, climate change, recycling, funeral preparations and medical intervention. Future topics are often decided at a previous meeting, depending on the interests of the participants. One possibility is to have a kitchen table conversation about democracy, an initiative urged by B.C.’s lieutenant governor in her New Year’s Day address.
Coffee and Cookies started last fall as a result of the congregation’s involvement in New Beginnings, a program that helps churches assess their resources and their purpose. One of the findings in the study revealed that nearly half of the population of the Valley consists of people 55 and older, and that many are relative newcomers. There is a need in the Valley for places where people can gather and talk and make connections. The church’s resources include a wheelchair-accessible building, lots of parking and friendly folk who enjoy meeting new people. The Coffee and Cookies program seemed like a good match for these two elements.
“We stress that the topics are not approached from a religious perspective, although we do begin and end each session with a brief prayer,” says co-ordinator Pat Douglas.
The conversations are friendly gatherings that generate connections between participants.
“We also make sure that we wind up at 11:30, ending in a timely fashion. And if people need a ride, we’ll try to arrange that, too,” added Douglas.
“I rather enjoy it,” says participant Al Manuel, who attends with his wife Pat. “I can throw in any comments I wish, there’s no pressure to conform to others’ points of view. I feel what I say may be of value to others or maybe not, but that’s OK.” It’s very relaxed, points out his wife Pat; everyone is welcome, whether they arrive on time or not, and everyone who wishes, gets to have their say. The couple enjoys the time out and learning to know other participants better. It’s definitely a social outing that fosters connections.
If this appeals to you, you’re invited to join in the conversation. The next meeting of Coffee and Cookies will be on Feb. 6 at 10:30 a.m. at Comox Valley Presbyterian Church, located at 725 Aspen in Comox. For more information, call Pat Douglas at 250-338-6247. Also check out the church website at www.cvpc.ca