Coffee N' Cards connects Yates Co. Vets, military, and families

Sarah Thompson, The Living Well
Coffee n Cards

PENN YAN -- November 6, the Yates Suicide Prevention Coalition (YSPC) will hold its first Coffee N’ Cards monthly gathering for Yates County veterans, active-duty military, and their families. The event offers connection over coffee, snacks, and other non-alcoholic beverages; while enjoying card or board games, and good conversation. Meetings will take place on the first Saturday of each month from 1 - 4 p.m. in the semi-private room inside Milly's Pinwheel Market & Cafe at 19 Main St. in Penn Yan.

“Those of us who served, or serve, in the military share a unique language and culture,” says Phil Rouin, director of the Yates County Veterans Service Agency, co-chair of the YSPC Advisory Committee, and a U.S. Navy veteran. “Having a safe place to be yourself and connect with others who understand that language can help people feel less alone.”

According to the 2019 U.S. census, there are an estimated 1,400 veterans living in Yates County, the majority of which are veterans of the Vietnam War. Other than the American Legion, which is a membership organization, there are no county programs designated for veterans or military personnel to maintain connections outside active-duty. Ideas for the future of Coffee N' Cards include potluck gatherings, art/craft-based activities, and yoga and/or other movement classes. Well-behaved service animals also are welcome.

“For me, launching Coffee N’ Cards is the culmination of a highly personal goal,” says Amanda Hayes, a YSPC member and suicide loss survivor. “Veterans who are suffering want to feel normal, understood, and supported; but they also need more safe, fun ways to connect.”

Coffee N’ Cards is made possible by support from the Yates County Veterans Service Agency, YSPC, The Living Well, and Milly’s Pantry/The Pinwheel Market. For more information, contact Phil Rouin at 315-536-5196, or Amanda Hayes (ahayes585@yahoo.com).