MOUNT VERNON – Mitzi Robinson says she started preparing for her turn to cook for the Mount Vernon Community Center’s Saturday morning cafe the Monday before, but the slightly raised eyebrow of her husband, Quimby, suggested she had, just maybe, started even sooner than that.

“I started Monday — you’ve got to plan the menu, go to the grocery store and start cooking,” she said of the multiple quiches, cakes, coffee and other home-cooked items she made.

Diners cleaned Robinson’s food off their plates Saturday.

She said she does it because others did the same for them when the couple retired to Mount Vernon, from New Jersey, in 2002. Quimby Robinson’s family is from the Mount Vernon area, but Mitzi was new to the area. She was welcomed nonetheless, and now she does the same for others, whether they’re local old-timers, newcomer retirees or summer folks visiting one of the area’s lakes.

“When we retired up here, and started coming to this, the people were so good to us, I felt I should give back to my community,” Robinson said. “It’s been worthwhile, and I certainly know what’s going on in town.”

Regular attendee Don Keneagy, of Mount Vernon, confirmed there is, indeed, a good amount of gossip and discussion of town news at the gatherings.

“It’s about sociability, gossip and just saying hello,” Keneagy said. “It’s open to everyone. It’s for donations, but if you don’t have it, you just eat anyway. It’s a different person (cooking) every Saturday. But it’s always good.”

Keneagy said between 30 and 50 people show up most Saturdays, more in the summer.

The community center, perched on the shore of Minnehonk Lake, is a former Methodist church that was turned over to the town in the early 1990s. Volunteers coordinated fundraising efforts to convert it into a community center.

“Now we come here and pray the food will be ready,” joked Don Peseux, a Mount Vernon resident who said he comes to the breakfasts regularly “because I’m hungry. And there are a lot of good friends here, a lot of good people.”

Donations collected at the cafe go to the community center, which hosts dance lessons and recitals, dinners, meetings and other community events.

Keith Edwards can be contacted at 621-5647 or at:

kedwards@centralmaine.com