Heroes Cafe: Emergency workers, veterans gather to talk with each other

January 10, 2019

Local heroes swapped stories and laughs over cups of coffee at the Elks Lodge for the third Heroes Cafe event in Watertown.

It was a gloomy and chilly morning on Tuesday but the conversations inside the lodge were the opposite.

The Heroes Cafe is a monthly gathering where active and veteran military, police officers, firefighters and EMTs can chat with each other and receive information about local businesses and organizations that provide services, benefits and discounts to them.

The first meeting in Watertown took place in November 2018. Director Misti Hawn said there are similar gatherings like this across the country and the closest one was in Wisconsin Rapids.

″(Watertown) has a large concentration of people who have served ... and I just felt that there’s so many people here in this area that want to give back and they didn’t know of a great way to do it other than send money to some place,” Hawn said.

Nate Dorn, a police officer at the Hartford Police Department, spoke briefly about his other job at RE/MAX Service First and how they give 25 percent of their commission back to police officers, dispatchers, firefighters, EMS and military who are buying or selling homes.

“It’s something from us to say thank you in some small way,” Dorn said.

He is also taking a class on military relocation services and wants to help people transitioning out of the military find homes.

Retired veterans Richard Peterson and Wil Brunk sat together at a table.

“I like to mingle with other people that have been in the service or service-oriented people,” Peterson said.

Brunk has been to all three events in Watertown.

“I just think it’s a great little coffee klatch hour to maybe see some people that you haven’t seen or you know them from the past,” Brunk said. ”... It’s fun to talk about the old times once in a while.”

The Rev. Jeffrey Meyer of Christ United Methodist Church was there to listen to anyone wanting to talk. He said he has a great deal of respect for the military.

“I thought if there could be a way that I could listen to people’s stories, I thought it would be something that God would want me to do,” Meyer said, adding that he plans to come to every event.

Michael English sat at Meyer’s table and was ready with funny quips. He is a Vietnam veteran and has been involved with the Heroes Cafe.

English said this event is a way to get information out about organizations such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion and American Veterans.

“We’re basically introducing ourselves to what we are, what we stand for in Watertown,” English said.

Hawn said there is a plan to add an evening event, starting in February.

The Heroes Cafe meets on the second Tuesday of each month at the Elks Lodge. Sponsors of the Heroes Cafe are the Watertown Elks Lodge, Ixonia State Bank, Tribeca GalleryCafe & Books, and Piggly Wiggly.

Hawn said the Heroes Cafe is open to people in the surrounding area and they welcome other businesses and organizations to join the event.

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