MONROE – Harry Watkins and Larry Berg started the Waxhaw Baptist Church Veterans Coffee House one year ago with a desire to give veterans a place where they could feel safe to share their experiences.
They took their idea to Pastor Chris Whittaker and his wife, Laura. The Whittakers supported the idea, as their fathers are both veterans, and offered the church as a gathering place.
Watkins and Berg were joined by Marshall Boston and Bill Ruehle, who assist each month. All four are veterans.
Twenty people attended the first coffee in December 2017. The crowd has grown to 70 veterans and spouses.
The coffee takes place 9 to 11 a.m. on the fourth Thursday of each month at the church, 8213 Old Waxhaw Monroe Road.
Speakers have included Anthony Parker, of the Union County Veteran Services Office; Waxhaw Police Chief Michael Eiss; Waxhaw Mayor Stephen Maher; and Lance Nelson, of the Vet Center, a counseling center for combat veterans.
Watkins said he loves seeing veterans laughing, talking and enjoying the camaraderie.