Roxie Wood was inspired to start a community dinner in Granby by the success of the community dinner at Cranmer Chapel in Winter Park.
Her reasons were two-fold.
"I saw a need for people who needed a free meal because of financial reasons. People in Grand County work two-three jobs in order to make ends meet and some people just want an evening out," Wood said.
The dinners were held every two weeks from January to March at the Granby Community Center. In its second year, "it is getting bigger and bigger," she said. The largest number of people fed in one evening was 84.
For the past three months, the Community Calendar has included this item: "Free Community Dinner ... come meet new people and catch up with old friends."
I decided on the last Friday night in March to go see for myself.
A different church cooks and sponsors the event each time, and that night St. John's Episcopal contributed their efforts.
Amy Zacek-Smith greeted me immediately with a warm handshake. I was expecting to fill my plate in a food line but instead she asked me to have a seat and said they would serve me my dinner.
A big plate of chicken, rice and vegetables was placed in front of me; the bread was waiting on the table. As soon as I finished, my plate was whisked away and a piece of chocolate cake was set before me.
I asked the woman across the table from me why she came to the dinner. She said she came to almost all of them. The dinner helped her financially and every meal was excellent. She emphasized she was always treated well.
I eavesdropped on the conversation going on at my table, then began to mingle with the other diners to find out why they were there.
"It's fun. I always meet someone new," said Marlan Anderson. He talked his wife Jean into coming by telling her, "You don't have to cook."
One man told me his wife died three years ago and it was nice to come eat a good meal with other people.
Coming to community events for the conversation was one woman's reason. She said she attended even if she didn't know anyone.
"I'm kind of a hermit and this gives me a chance to get out," said Ray Miller. "I use to go to the bars but I don't much anymore. That gets old."
Two men were standing next to a big table of cakes, deserts, and rolls. They were neighbors and came together each week.
I discovered the cakes and rolls were donated by Safeway and you could take home anything on the table that you wanted.
I also discovered that you could ask for a meal "to go" and the organizers delivered meals to people's homes that weren't able to get out.
Unfortunately, I also discovered the bad news: Wood and her husband Ed sold their home and are moving to Iowa this month.
Concern for the dinners ending was expressed by everyone if no one steps up to takes Wood's place.
Everything in the Community Calendar was true. I ate a delicious meal - served with 5 star service - and I met new people.
As I watched Roxie Wood lock the door for the last time I was troubled - why had I waited until the last dinner of the year to attend - and would I be able to come back next year?
If there will be a next year.
Thank you Roxie. For all of your hard work and dedication to the people of the community for the past two years.