TWU & Elim – The VandenBrinks

TWU and Elim Village have a shared common value: community. We recently shared Neil (‘75) & Sharol (Johnson ‘78) Josephson’s story of their connections to TWU and Elim, and are now pleased to highlight John (‘68) and Jean VandenBrink’s journey.

John and Jean emigrated from the Netherlands in the ‘50s, and worked very hard to support their relatives while building a family. “Education was very important to us,” says Jean, “so when we had the opportunity to pursue further education, we did.”

When John was 33, then-Board member Robert Thompson—the namesake of today’s RNT Building—encouraged him to attend Trinity Junior College. Even as a mature student juggling work, family and school, he fondly remembers the inviting campus atmosphere, and singing the hymn “Like a River Glorious” in chapel. “I so appreciated the opportunity to learn in a supportive, Christian environment,”
says John.

Little did he know then that in that brief year, he began a legacy of TWU alumni, which continued with his daughter Linda (VandenBrink) Kraay attending in 1976, and eight grandchildren, which include Dayna Doerksen (Jansen VanDoorn ’09), Hanah VandenBrink (’13), and Tessa Kastelein (’14). Spartans careers seem to run in the family. Dayna—who played for the national team from 2005-2009— married Jacob Doerksen (’11), who plays professional basketball for Rasta Vechta in Germany.

After living in Surrey for 40 years, John and Jean were ready to begin the next season of their lives. They chose Elim for the beautiful campus, thoughtful staff, and commitment to community.

Elim Village’s faith-integrated, campus-of-care approach—as well as their many housing options and diverse schedule of activities—offers residents a welcoming, dynamic, and vibrant community. “There are people from all different backgrounds here,” says John. “We appreciate learning from and having fellowship with them.” Adds Jean, “The neighbours always help each other out.”

John and Jean have been quite involved, too. Jean enjoys working with the gardening committee at Elim, while John has served on the Resident’s Council for two years. “We’ve even started a computer club for seniors to teach them how to better communicate with their families,”John says. “Retirement for some people means you sit down, but this hasn’t been the case for us.”


The VandenBrinks continue to find connections back to TWU, even within Elim’s community. Tessa, a nursing student who recently served residents at the Village for her practicum, often visited her grandparents for lunch. John and Jean think it’s wonderful that TWU and Elim Village, who share a foundation in Christ, continue to find ways to build community. Says Jean, smiling, “It’s wonderful having the students around.”

The Alumni Office agrees, and we look forward to celebrating Alumni Weekend 2013 in September with those from the Elim Village and TWU community.

Check out the Vandenbrink’s Facebook feature we did earlier last summer.

Learn more about Elim Village.

Click the picture below to view the print version of the VandenBrinks’ story.