GWINN - The name may be Merry Mixers - and heaven knows the group is full of good cheer - but this group of Forsyth Townshp senior citizens is doing much more than having fun.
Twice a month, the Forsyth Township Merry Mixers gather at the senior center within the Gwinn Clubhouse to enjoy each other's company and get down to work. Because when there's a need in the community, the Merry Mixers are there to help fulfill it.
The Merry Mixers meeting at the Forsyth Township Senior Center was run by the group’s officers, from left, Louie Zanetti, Chic LaFave, Gloria LaFave and Julie Shaw. The Mixers meet twice a month and are heavily involved in community service. (Journal photo by Renee Prusi)
The group formed nearly 40 years ago, in 1971 to be precise. Back then, it cost 10 cents for a cup of coffee at a Mixers meeting. Now it's 25 cents. All those years ago, the group had assigned hostesses who were paid $2 for their efforts. Now, the group is all volunteer.
Edna Hocking, a lifelong Gwinn resident born Edna Ayotte some 87 years ago, has been a Merry Mixer for quite some time.
"I started in the early 1980s, when I retired," Hocking said. "I joined because I wanted to be with people and to find out what's going on.
"Merry Mixers is a great way to be involved with the community," she said. "I would recommend it to other seniors."
Hocking was Merry Mixers president for several years.
"It's a good group," she said. "We all have our schedules and it's hard to keep up sometimes with all the stuff going on."
She isn't kidding. At a meeting in late November, the Merry Mixers went over some of the projects in which the group is involved. The list was long.
The group is planning a holiday dinner at the center which is limited to 80 people. On Dec. 12, the Merry Mixers will hop on a MarqTran bus for a Christmas lights tour of the area, with dessert and coffee to cap that evening. Then two days later, some of the Mixers will join with their peers at the Negaunee Senior Center for a meal and another trip to view Christmas lights.
Other things on the list include supporting a cake auction at the Gwinn High School and purchasing Subway cards from the GHS cheerleaders.
Merry Mixers are also helping with the prep work for the Christmas dinner that will take place Dec. 25 at the Gwinn Clubhouse. Many of them volunteered to come in to the center on Dec. 24 to peel potatoes and do other tasks so the dinner will go smoothly for those cooking it.
Chic LaFave, the Merry Mixers president, runs the meeting and asks for reports from the 17 members gathered that day as he can report to the Marquette County Commission on Aging about all of the many activities in which they are involved.
A short list of some of the groups the Merry Mixers have donated a huge variety of items to in order to fill needs includes the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program; Marquette General Hospital; the D.J. Jacobetti Home for Veterans; Brookridge Assisted Living Facility; the Gwinn Senior Center; Voices for Youth; the Gwinn Veterans of Foreign Wars; Bell Hospital; Camp Nu-Day; and the Marquette Community Baby Shower.
"We are such an awesome community and this is such an awesome group," said Julie Shaw, Forsyth Township Senior Center director. "We are really around for one another. It's wonderful."
The Merry Mixers group has one other special feature: At the close of each meeting, the members are regaled with "Jokes by Louie." Member Louie Zanetti tells a few chucklers to the assembled group.
"He has some good ones," Shaw said.
The Merry Mixers next meet at 1 p.m. Dec. 15 at the Forsyth Township Senior Center in the Gwinn Clubhouse.
Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.