by Alayna Bakke
Volunteerism with the Dutch Heritage Boosters (DHB) comes naturally to a mother-daughter duo, both of Orange City. Kathy McKinstrey was a long-time board member of the group, now retired, but her daughter, Julie De Wit, is picking up where Kathy left off and recently joined the board.
McKinstrey recalled being asked to join the board, “I remember someone from the board asked if I would join and I asked if there a lot of work to be done. The reply was ‘Oh, yes.’” She agreed to join the DHB board, wanting to be a part of something for the community.
McKinstrey, 87, is Dutch in blood and at heart. Growing up in Sioux Center, she did not have the opportunity to participate in Dutch traditions and heritage. However, when she moved to Orange City in 1965, that changed. She has been an Orange City resident for 57 years and has spent 25 of those years as a member of the Dutch Heritage Boosters.
In keeping with Dutch tradition, the local non-profit volunteer group sponsors a Sinterklaas Dag celebration the first Saturday in December. This celebration was part of the community as far as 70 years ago and was revived in the late 1980s. Kathy was the chairman of Sinterklaas Dag for over 20 years and started the Tulip Festival Dutch games for the 2nd graders in Orange City.
In addition to Dutch games, McKinstrey became versed in a new activity for the DHB: poffertjes. When the group bought the Little White Store to make and sell poffertjes from during Tulip Festival and the summer months, McKinstrey pitched in to help make batter and supervise the daily operations.
When asked about her favorite part of being a member of the Dutch Heritage Boosters, McKinstrey said, “The comradery with other people. I loved the fellowship. Everyone has such good ideas and that makes a really big difference.”
McKinstrey’s daughter, Julie De Wit grew up with the opportunity to be a part of all the local Dutch traditions and festivities from a very young age. She was a flower girl for the Tulip Queen's court and participated in Dutch games, Dutch dances, the Parade of Flags and the Pride of the Dutchman Marching Band. She remembers dressing up in her Dutch costume, scrubbing streets and riding in parade floats for free ride tickets.
Just this year, she joined the Dutch Heritage Boosters board. She has always loved poffertjes and sharing them with others in the Little White Store, and is taking a leadership role there. De Wit says the sale of poffertjes (a Dutch pastry) is vital to the group, “It’s the primary fundraiser that is used to raise funds for our projects and all the profit is infused back into the community.”
De Wit’s favorite part of the Dutch Heritage Boosters comes from the fellowship it brings. “I like the social activity of it. These are people I don't deal with on a regular basis. It's fun to hang out with different people and get to know them,” she said. “I love the poffertjes. I like grilling. I like supervising. It's fun to meet other people. When I'm supervising, I make lots of jokes. You've got to make it fun.”
There are many ways to be involved in Dutch Heritage in Orange City whether you are a member of the Dutch Heritage Boosters or not. “There are always things to do! There's poffertjes, you can do the Century Home and give tours, you can walk in the Heritage Walk, you can volunteer to work at the information center, you can work at food vendors, you can ride floats, work the Sinterklaas games,” said De Wit.
According to mother and daughter, anyone can be involved in volunteering with the group and being Dutch is certainly not a criteria. “It is important to get new people who move to the community involved. They have different ideas that can help, and all are welcome,” said De Wit.
Visit https://www.dutchheritageboosters.com/ to learn more about Dutch Heritage Boosters and ways to become involved.
Alayna Bakke is a graduate of Northwestern College and currently serving in a communications role at Summitcreek Church in Des Moines, Iowa. This story was written as part of the Spring Semester Advanced Public Relations class at Northwestern College, under the direction of Professor Ann Minnick.