Nineteen years of coffee, fun
Scandinavia group started meeting in 2002
By Holly Neumann
In June 2002, Susan Barlow thought Scandinavia needed a meeting place for people to get together to chat and socialize.
With that, she started a coffee group that meets at the Scandinavia Public Library each Thursday, beginning at 8 a.m.
“We started out with about 13 people,” Barlow said. “Of course, we have seen that number go up and down over the years, but we usually have a good turnout.”
Barlow makes the coffee and typically brings along cookies for everyone to enjoy.
“I really enjoy listening to all the stories, but most of all, I love hearing people laughing and having a good time,” she said.
Lupe Carper has been coming since 2018.
“I love the social networking, the camaraderie, the good laughs and that feeling of belonging to something,” she said. “And, of course, the good sweets.”
The group helps Carper relieve some of her loneliness she has experienced after retiring from her job.
“I have made some real friends here,” she said. “It’s a constant in my life where I can build relationships with other people over time.”
Linda Johnson is one of the veterans of the group.
“The Scandinavia coffee hour includes a group of people who are concerned about each other,” she said. “We celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and other highlights of our lives. Some of us live alone, so it is great to come and share our lives with others.”
Johnson said the best thing about the group is anyone is welcome.
“Many of the people that attend have ties to Iola-Scandinavia, but may have lived in different locations during working years,” she said. “Now, they are back and enjoy reconnecting with hometown folks.”
Chuck Mortenson agreed
“Because I have roots here, I decided that I wanted to join the group,” he said. “It is more than just a cup of coffee. There is a lot of history here. I don’t know any other town like Scandinavia where people will take you under their wing and make you their friend, even if they don’t know you.”
Each week, participants put a $1 donation into a teapot. Over the years, this has allowed the group to donate more than $25,000 to various causes in the Scandinavia community.