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In the days after the devastation of Tropical Storm Irene, a "volunteer/help needed" board emerged at the Williamsville Hall.

Town and Village

Ripple effect

Recalling neighborly spirit in wake of Irene, a breakfast club takes root at Williamsville Hall

WILLIAMSVILLE—In 2011, Tropical Storm Irene hit this section of Newfane hard. Some houses along Dover Road were destroyed when the Rock River jumped its banks, and many others around the village experienced damage and lengthy power outages.

The Williamsville Hall, with its ample meeting space and kitchen, served as a welcoming oasis for many in the community. It was a place to go to share information and find support.

Six years later, some residents find themselves missing that feeling of community spirit.

Members of the Williamsville Hall Committee appeared at the Aug. 7 regular Selectboard meeting to ask for the Board’s approval to form a “breakfast club” at the hall.

“This kind of came from [Irene],” said committee member Steve Levine. “It’s almost like, we didn’t want to close it, but it wasn’t needed anymore, the power was back on [and] people were back in their homes. But it was such a wonderful place for people to gather."

Levine said the plan is to open the hall’s downstairs dining room on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and serve coffee, tea, juice, and home-baked breakfast goods. “We have some very good bakers,” he noted.

“There’d be a place for people to come in the morning, get a cup of coffee, talk to their neighbors, get out of the house, do a little computer work, and just have a gathering place — which we don’t really have,” Levine said.

“We won’t actually be cooking in the kitchen, but we’ll use it to clean up and get water and stuff like that,” he said.

A member of the committee will staff the operation, and the committee will pay for wireless internet for patrons to use. Customers will offer donations for the food and beverages, which will go toward upkeep of the hall.

The committee has some interior work to do, such as painting and hanging curtains, before debuting the breakfast club. Committee member Maggie Kemp said they hoped to get Rock River artists to hang their art on the walls. The plan is to open in October, or perhaps sooner.

“The term ‘club’ is a little misleading,” said committee member Jon Julian. “It’s not exclusive. It’s open to everybody.”

“And encouraged!” Levine added.

Julian and Levine agreed the committee may not even call it the “breakfast club,” and they asked for suggestions on a different name.

The Selectboard unanimously approved — minus the absent Carol Hatcher — the Williamsville Hall Committee’s proposal to hold a breakfast club in the building.

“It’s a very comfortable place,” said Board member Marion Dowling. “I’m sure you’ll get a lot of people there."

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Originally published in The Commons issue #422 (Wednesday, August 23, 2017). This story appeared on page D1.

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