In the early 1900s’, a group of writers, critics, comics and wits met nearly every day at the Algonquin Hotel in New York City to share barbs, news and conversation. They were known affectionately, as the members of the Algonquin Round Table. They informed each other. They inspired each other.
It was said of them that they were better as a group than they ever were on their own. This reference was made five years ago when Roberta Eldridge came up with the idea and name for the Kennett Community Coffee Klatch, which meets on Thursday mornings from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Market at Liberty Place in downtown Kennett Square.
There are regular attendees and those they invite, or a person who saw the opportunity given to all residents on the Historic Kennett Square web site. In total, the gathering is a random group of different age individuals, who are hoping to experience the vibes of belonging to a community, hold a lively conversation, and be a part of something larger than a formal organization.
Roberta Eldridge had previously lived in New York City and moved to Kennett Square for the small-town atmosphere. It is her passion and faithful attendance that has kept the informal structure going these past five years. Now that Roberta moves to another town to be closer to family, we know that Kathy Rutledge will be the next committed convener of Kennett’s version of the Algonquin Round Table.
The Klatch has found that the Market provides just the right community space for joining a couple of large wooden tables with ample surrounding chairs to make it a “round table.” Artisan coffee from Mary Pat’s Provisions is available, with a small donation encouraged. Others stay-on after the Klatch to enjoy lunch at one of the many vendors at the Market.
It doesn’t take long for a visitor to the Klatch to learn of upcoming events in town; be linked to books, websites and people; learn about organizations that are right down the street from where they live; or be asked to volunteer for them. The Klatch has also periodically given donation items to charitable causes; the most recent one, over-the-counter pediatric medicines to be brought on a mission trip to Malawi, South Africa by a community resident.
On the fifth anniversary of this community gathering, a celebration was held. At the event the group was asked what the Coffee Klatch has meant to them. One person responded, “I moved to Kennett two years ago and knew no one and now I feel I have a whole circle of friends.” Another; “I feel accepted as a member of this town and valued for what I have to offer.” Another; “As an outgrowth of this experience, we have started a Monday morning knitting group that meets from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Any community member can show up at The Market at Liberty Place and knit together, sharing skills and ideas about knitting projects.” Another; “As an outgrowth of this experience, I started a book club from 9:30am to 10:30am that moves into the Klatch afterwards. We call ourselves ‘Soul Sisters,’ because the readings we have chosen have encouraged each of us to share personally about our life’s journey.”
And, finally another told us that she appreciated an arena to let them know about the mission of the non-profit, where she was an employee.
History has shown us that no matter large or small town, old or young, we have an innate need as humans to belong. It isn’t always easy to know how to meet this need. The Kennett Community Coffee Klatch has found a secret,“that everyone is better as a group than they are on their own”