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Recently a champion of our Disability Concerns ministry, Hank Kuntz (one of the original DC Canada members who helped grow our ministry to what it is today), let us know that a friend of the Disability Concerns community has passed away—Betty Van Deemter. Betty was a strong advocate and supporter of our ministry and was the focus of an article Hank wrote for Breaking Barriers.

In 2008, Betty and Hank started their own group for folks living at Holland Christian Homes. This group, called Always a Parent, was active for some time, giving parents a space to come together, fellowship with one another, and learn about topics of interest to parents who have adult children living with various disabilities. 

We are so thankful for individuals like Betty who have dedicated so much of their lives to caring for others. They have laid the foundation for our ministry to continue to grow and thrive. Here is Hank’s article about Betty.

Good News and Bad News from our Spring Issue of Breaking Barriers, 2007

by Hank Kuntz, Regional Disability Advocate for Classis Toronto

To quote our former Director of Disability Concerns, Dr. James Vanderlaan: 

“First the bad news: you are getting old. Now the good news: you are getting old!” 

That is the daily reality in the roughly 350-member congregation where Betty Van Deemter is the Church Advocate. The Heritage Fellowship at Holland Christian Homes (HCH), in Brampton, Ontario, is officially part of what was known as Brampton Second CRC, yet functions with its own council of a dozen elders and deacons as well as two full-time and two part-time chaplains. Of the 1,100 tenants and residents at this retirement complex, some 240 live in two separate, 120 bed, long-term-care facilities, all others live independently in apartment buildings in units ranging from studio to two bedroom size.

A lot of tenants continue to worship outside the facility, while Betty reports that the Sunday morning service at Heritage Fellowship has attendees from some 13 different denominations! “I guess at our age we have stopped looking at differences of points of view,” comments Betty.

When it comes to disabling conditions, HCH certainly underscores that it is not really a matter of if you will deal with a disabling condition, but rather when.

So here is a place designed to meet as many needs as possible. A social worker and nursing staff are available. There are clinics for various concerns, as well as support groups to provide, for example, a community for those dealing with Parkinson’s and another for people dealing with grief. These services are available in addition to other amenities always found in a retirement home. 

HCH also has close to 400 folks listed as volunteers, nearly all of them living right there. They provide much needed help at mealtimes, in activities, in gardening, in maintenance, in visiting others, for doing devotions, for transport within as well as outside the home, and the list goes on. Betty Van Deemter keeps abreast of disability issues that need attention. Just recently she saw her (and others’) work to get a special computer for people with visual impairments crowned with success!

Younger people living with disabilities would love to be able to access the kind of care provided by a ‘home’ like HCH! It responds to the human need for community, to be part of a body in which we all can play a role, where we all can use whatever gifts God gave us. Secondly it underscores the fact that we need each other.

Betty Van Deemter told me about her church that “the joie de vivre and harmony of this community is at times astonishing.”

That’s the joy that comes to so many of us who are affected by disabilities or diminishing abilities: the joy of knowing that Christ carried the load for us, and does so even today. 

To access the article in the newsletter online: Breaking Barriers, Spring 2007

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