Conversation helps brew a long tradition

Jo Bourgoin (left) and Jeri Albertini catch up during this month’s gathering at Let’s Do Lunch in Bellevue.   - Keegan Prosser, Bellevue Reporter
Jo Bourgoin (left) and Jeri Albertini catch up during this month’s gathering at Let’s Do Lunch in Bellevue.
— image credit: Keegan Prosser, Bellevue Reporter

“This group is special.”

That seems to be the general consensus about the “Hyak Coffee Club” – a group of women hailing from the Kelsey Creek neighborhood, who meet for coffee and good conversation on the third Wednesday of every month.

Started by Jo Bourgoin, nearly 45 years ago, the original intent of the gathering was to connect with neighbors and talk gardening. Each month, Bourgoin would run through a list of approximately 30 women, call them and set up a meeting. When word of her hospitality and kind nature spread, the group began to grow.

“I hosted 14 or 15 people in my living room – until I ran out of cups,” Bourgoin said.

When the group outgrew Bourgoin’s living room, others within the neighborhood began to host. And throughout the years, the numbers have stayed about the same.

“There are usually a dozen women.” said Jeri Albertini, who’s been attending the gathering for five years.

Two years ago, the group decided to start meeting at Let’s Do Lunch, off 130th in Bellevue.

“Now none of us has to play hostess,” says Pearl Nardella, whose been attending the gathering since 1986.

The rules for the gatherings are simple: no politics, no religion, no gossip. And despite the limitations, conversations abound: family updates, real estate, the safety of the neighborhood and the status of Kelsey Creek Park are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to these ladies.

The longevity of the group is another impressive feat, something Albertini attributes to the fact that they genuinely all want to be there.

“We all get along,” she said.

So well, in fact, that a number of women who have since moved away from the neighborhood continue to return. That’s the case for Joyce Vodal, who now lives in Edmonds, but continues to make the trip each month to connect with her friends.

“It’s a good way to stay in touch,” Vodal said.

Tamar White has also had a long history with the group, having started attending with her mother years ago.

“She liked to come to this, so I would bring her,” White said.

Now an employee at the Kelsey Creek Farm, White continues to attend because it keeps her in touch with her community.

“I think it’s really important for neighbors to connect.”

Up until a few years ago, Bourgoin was the one doing all the calling, though Albertini has since taken over the duties. Even so, Bourgoin continues to attend – when she’s feeling up to it.

“I like seeing people I haven’t seen [in a while],” Bourgoin said.

While the gathering never has a specific agenda, an exception was made this Wednesday, when the group took a moment to recognize Bourgoin, the woman who started it all.

“Jo turns 90 next month,” Albertini said, presenting the founder with flowers and a card. “And we won’t meet again before it.”

Hugs were given, songs were sung and the chatter continued. A few minutes later, amongst empty coffee cups and half eaten scones, Nardella asked the group to pause; Bourgoin had something to say.

“This has been a wonderful day,” Bourgoin said. “I’m looking forward to next year!”


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