HANSVILLE — A festive paper sign hung in the window of the Hansville Community Center “The party’s here.”
And oh, it was.
Balloons, flowers, hamburgers off the grill, songs and, of course ,birthday cake marked a decade milestone for the Neighbors Lunch.
Most of all there were memories.
“It started out with lunching and no speakers, that may have been the best,” Red Denson joked as he went over a list of the more memorable speakers. A dog show, estate planning, and submariners at Subase Bangor were just a few.
The sailors’ presentation “Cook, Eat and Wash Dishes” educated the neighbors about the strategy behind kitchen duty on a 70-day mission.
“It was an off the cuff type thing,” Denson said of the first few Hansville lunches.
The monthly gatherings began in 1992 when Donna Grout’s parents moved to Hansville.
“How could she keep from going stir crazy,” was the impetus behind organizing the lunch, Grout said.
“There was not an awful lot to do at that time,” she said.
That and the fact most of the seniors didn’t want to go out at night.
Thus the Hansville Neighbors Lunch was born. All of the meals were cooked at people’s homes then carted to the community center. Over the years the county required the food be prepared and served at the center.
“This is a good example of what the community can do for itself,” said Luanne Hill, former Hansville Community Center board president.
There were five objectives to the lunch: provide a low-cost meal, a chance for seniors to socialize, provide volunteer activities, give people a chance to discuss community issues, and conduct tours.
All objectives were met, Hill said. Meals were served for $1.50, speakers were brought in including Teddy Roosevelt, people were called each month to encourage them to come to lunch and tours were conducted. But as time went on the program changed. Tours were left by the wayside, meals and room set up are done by a staff and people who don’t want to be bothered with it aren’t contacted.
The neighbors make one trip a year on Olympia’s Kitsap Day. Last year Hansville took a bus full of people, Bremerton brought a car load and Poulsbo sent two people.
This lunch featured guest grillers from North Kitsap Fire & Rescue. FIrefighters and district officials cooked burgers and then presented information about the department.
Grout said over the years the historical presentations have captured her interest.
Looking at how the program has flourished over 10 years, she said “I’m thrilled with what’s going on here.”