George Harris laughs when he remembers how his wife, Mabel, asked him to attend the first Second Friday Feast.
â€œSomeone told us that it was starting and Mabel said I was going to go,â€ said George.
That was 11 years ago, according to Mabel, who said they haven`t missed a single meeting.
â€œIt`s amazing how the feast has grown over the past years. Itâ€™s done so much for the people who come. The gathering enables people who would normally sit in their homes to have something to do. They meet new people and make new friends,â€ she said.
The November meeting of Wayneâ€™s Second Friday Feast marked 11 years the group has been meeting. This monthâ€™s feast was sponsored by First Federal Bank of Denver and Kay Davis with Century 21 Hecht Realty, also of Denver.
â€œI was fortunate to be part of Wayneâ€™s feast since Wayne was alive,â€ said Davis.
According to Celia Deese, her brother, Wayne Griffin, started the feast as the first Friday feast.
â€œAt that time, we were meeting in different churches the first Friday of the month starting in September of 1995,â€ said Deese.
Celia and Paul Deese have carried on the tradition of Wayneâ€™s Feast since 1997, taking over when her brother, Wayne Griffin passed away from congestive heart failure a year-and-a-half after having moved here from Charleston, S.C. Jon Mayhew / LTN Photo
Deese said Griffin had moved from Charleston to be an interior designer.
However, he became involved with East Lincoln Christian Ministries and, according to Deese, soon accepted a position as the adult coordinator for senior activities.
â€œHe told me that he thought there would be support for a monthly meeting of seniors,â€ she said.
In 1997, only about a year and a half after moving to Lincoln County, Wayne Griffin died of congestive heart failure. Deese and her husband, Paul, began carrying on the tradition of the first Friday feast.
â€œAfter Wayne died, the group changed the name to Wayneâ€™s Second Friday Feast in the fall of 1997,â€ said Deese.
For several years, the group â€” numbering between 100 and 125 people each month â€” kept meeting in churches throughout Lincoln County.
â€œThen the fire marshal`s office came in and changed the seating capacity of some of the churches,â€ said Deese.
Age was another factor taking its toll on the group.
â€œSome of our more active people were getting older and werenâ€™t able to do as much as they could previously, like setting up and taking down tables and cooking, so I sent a letter to all of the restaurants in Lincoln County. I was hoping to get a response where we could all meet each month,â€ said Deese.
One restaurant, Captâ€™n Petes on N.C. 150 in Denver, responded. Deese said that was about four years ago.
â€œWeâ€™ve been meeting there ever since,â€ she said.
Fellowship and food
Wayneâ€™s Second Friday Feast is a way for people who normally don`t get out and socialize to do so.
â€œMany of the people who come each month have come every month for years,â€ she said.
The people that take part in Wayneâ€™s Feast are helping Griffin reach the original goal and mission of the project, Deese said.
â€œIt says this feast is something these people needed. They need the love, interaction and fellowship,” said Deese.
Deeseâ€™s husband, Paul, said he started helping with the feast by doing most of the telephone work.
â€œAfter about five years of answering phones and making reservations, I finally started coming each month,â€ he said.
Paul Deese added that Wayne would be proud of his sister for carrying on the tradition of the feast.
â€œWayne really cared about people, he was a people person himself. Wayne accomplished what he set out to do and Celia continues today to coordinate the feast each month,â€ said Paul.
Celia Deese pointed out an example of caring and Wayneâ€™s Feast.
When Mabel and George Harris first started coming to Wayneâ€™s Feast, they made an unusual request of Deese.
â€œThey said they wanted to see me after the first meeting was over, and I thought uh-oh, what have I done,â€ said Deese.
Deese discovered that the Harrises had a daughter named Celia, who had a massive heart attack and died in 1990.
â€œWe adopted her as a daughter,â€ said Mabel.
Often, when Deese thinks of the Harrises, she begins to weep.
â€œItâ€™s the irony of the situation,â€ said Deese. â€œMabel and George have been married for nearly 65 years and have come every month since weâ€™ve started. Over time, sheâ€™s developed Alzheimerâ€™s. Even so, she`s as sweet as she can be,â€ said Deese.
by Jon Mayhew