Country Terrace’s growing Dutch population sparks an idea for Alysha Verhoeven
Wednesday, July 16, 2014 — Deron Hamel
When Country Terrace life enrichment aide (LEA) Alysha Verhoeven began to notice an increase of Dutch residents at the Komoka long-term care home, she got an idea for a program that would tap into her own Dutch roots.
Alysha thought of her grandmother, or “oma,” Margaret Verhoeven, who is an excellent cook. What better way to make Dutch residents feel even more at home than to have her oma prepare a Dutch luncheon for them?
So, Alysha called her grandmother, who has volunteered in other long-term care homes, and asked if she’d be willing to cook some of her favourite Dutch recipes for them. Margaret was happy to help out and recently prepared a Dutch spread of food that included a traditional meatball soup and a cake, while Alysha prepared an array of sandwiches and tea.
Adding to the spirit of the event, Alysha decorated the dining room with red, white and blue ribbons to emulate the colours of the Netherlands’ flag. She also brought in a clog, a traditional wooden shoe that was used as a centrepiece, as well as miniature porcelain gin bottles shaped like houses that are distributed by Dutch airliner KLM.
Of course, no event celebrating culture would be complete without music, so the luncheon was followed by a Dutch singalong that brought out residents’ musical side.
“One woman, who speaks mainly Dutch, was singing the entire time and I’ve never heard her sing like that before,” Alysha says, adding that several residents who aren’t Dutch also joined in.
Alysha says she wants to celebrate a different culture each month on a go-forward basis.
“We have a lot of people here who are of different ethnicities, so it would be nice to celebrate everyone,” she says.
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