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Our Volunteers Share Their Stories
The reason I got involved with the Tulip Time Festival was a way for me to give back to my community. All of my children and grandchildren were involved in Tulip TIme one way or the other through school, either Dutch Dance or band, so I was always running them here and there for practice or on parade days. I was working full time, raising children and really did not have the time to get involved when they were growing up.
Then the unthinkable happened, I lost my husband 2 1/2 years ago to a heart attack and decided I could no longer work full time, losing him consumed my every thought. I retired from work and decided I was going to do what looked like fun and volunteered at Tulip Time!
I had so much fun, I plan on doing it again and again. Just meeting people from all over the world, getting to know the people involved with Tulip Time and telling tourist what our community has to offer them was such a pleasure. I met some wonderful co volunteers from the community and we have kept in touch through out the year. We plan on volunteering together again this year.
To me Tulip Time is that ONE time of the year that you can go out and show your pride for living in such a beautiful community, full of Tulips, Parades, historical venues, our one and only Windmill Island that holds so much history about the Netherlands. Getting to meet other people and of course all the "Junk Food" that comes with such a great festival.
If you can volunteer just once, have the desire to meet people from all over the world, can express your pride for your community and have the time to do it, I would recommend it. It only comes around once a year, if you don't care for it, at least you can say "I Tried It."
- Bonnie Fraam
In the spring of 2012 I was helping a puppy mill dog from Mapleview become more socialized so I brought her downtown during Tulip Time. Then I started thinking I should become more "Dutch" since I had been living in Holland since Sept 2007 and needed to become a local. The next spring I started volunteering in the office with Jessica, handing out programs to businesses, hostessing at the Beechwood Church dinners, volunteer tent, parades and being a participant in the Dutch Dog parade with BestPals Animal Rescue.
I've always felt welcome along with my puppy clients and I'm glad to help. My mother even helped at the end of the Music Parade one year. I'm glad to be a part of such a wonderful community.
- Becca Bochenek
My mother-in-law, Betty Oosterbaan, immigrated to the United States in 1939 from The Netherlands to avoid the impending Nazi invasion. She settled in the Kalamazoo area, married, raised four children adhering to many of the Dutch customs she grew up with including setting a “proper table” for guests (china, silverware, etc.) and often served traditional meals. On special occasions and holidays we delighted in stollen, bunket and oliebolan.
She loved to come to Tulip Time to speak Dutch with many of the others at the festival who spoke Dutch, to delight in traditional Dutch foods, and see the dancers; all of which rekindled the memories of her youth. When my wife and I moved to Holland, it seemed only natural to volunteer with Tulip Time as a means to continue the Dutch traditions celebrated in Oma’s home and to permit us to share those memories with our children and grandchildren.
Whether it’s Dutch, Irish, English, Italian, Hispanic, Jewish, Native American or another culture, we should embrace and celebrate all of these cultures. After all, it is the blend of these cultures and traditions that make us Americans.
- John Miner