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It’s the fastest growing group at Affirmations, and without a doubt one of the center’s most successful, the Senior Koffee Klatch continues to grow by leaps and bounds.
“They literally have outgrown every room at Affirmations,” said Affirmations Interim Executive Director Lilianna Reyes at a recent community chat at the center. “We always love it when people say they need more room.”
One of the center’s oldest groups, its origins trace back to before the current center location was even built.
“When I was involved in the group originally it was a bigger group and then it devolved into a group of about nine people,” said Rosemary Ruppert, the group’s facilitator. “Out of the nine, four us of committed to being facilitators. And it just started to grow. The major problem for older LGBTQ people is that sense of isolation and this breaks that up.”
Today, the group averages upwards of 30 attendees at their weekly meetings. At the community chat last week, Ruppert had to put in a request for additional tables to accommodate their increase in attendance.
“I think there is a need and I think that it’s gone through various different people and it’s just hit its stride and more and more people are finding out about it,” Ruppert said. “The group runs itself. I’m the facilitator but, basically, I’m more like a tennis referee; they volley across the room.”
People, said Ruppert, are attracted to the group for various reasons.
“We have people who have had long time relationships where a partner has died and there isn’t a whole lot of family and they’re basically coming back into the community and making those connections,” she said. “When I was younger we would say that our friends were our family of choice. Our families weren’t always accepting but we made our own families and that continues to be true.”
After meetings, most of the group goes out for what they call afterglow and share a meal at a nearby restaurant. Throughout the week, members communicate through Facebook.
“We can post pictures,” said Ruppert. “People go on vacation and make us jealous by posting pics of the fun they’re having and the great food they’re eating. And their new puppies.”
Ruppert said the group is comprised of some remarkable individuals.
“We have people who have an enormous amount of history in the building of this community,” she said. “We are a pioneering group of people and everything that’s happened since Stonewall we created.”
With age comes wisdom but, for LGBTQ seniors, loneliness can often come along as well.
“We’ve lived long lives,” said Ruppert. “We’ve lived in the community and our degree of separation is real slim. We all know each other. And the fact that we can just sit there and talk to each other is so much fun. You’re never too old to make new friends.”
The Senior Koffee Klatch meets at Affirmations on Wednesday from 1 to 3 p.m. Affirmations is located at 290 W Nine Mile Road. For more information, call 248-398-7105.