From Lisa Kuller

My words will not do justice to my friend, Catherine – a woman I so admired, respected and felt so blessed to have in my life. I may never fully be able to describe the hole in my heart – the piece that is missing now that she’s gone. And yet, I feel so full – of all the memories we made, stories we shared, experiences we embarked upon. She gave me so much, and I will always be grateful to her for that.

Catherine was an incredibly special person – one who brought great joy, intellect, laughter and love to our world, our community, her extended family and friends, and most especially, to me. Catherine was my constant companion in Amsterdam. I first heard the word “ping” from her, and a typical day was generally filled with “ping me on your way to Marqt,” “ping me from the Manège. I’ll meet you for tea,” “ping me when you’re ready to walk in Vondelpark….” No matter how mundane the day was, Catherine was available to meet for a walk, an errand, a tea, a lunch. These quiet moments together made up the fabric of my days, as her life and mine were seamlessly woven together. Often, our days extended to raucous and laughter-filled evenings out (some too blurry to remember!), Thanksgivings, New Years and birthday celebrations with our families and friends.

Among all of the memories, a highlight will always be our two weeks together exploring Tamil Nadu, India, and building homes for families on the AWCA Habitat for Humanity India trip. This was one of the most rewarding and enriching experiences of my life – not to mention that we must have set an all-time record for the most nonstop laughter among girlfriends! The bond we all formed on that trip continues to be strong, warm and lasting.

Catherine would go above and beyond to connect and be fully present for her family, friends and acquaintances. She placed the highest value on relationships and connection – I know few people who have given so much of themselves to others with no expectations in return. When we were together, she always made me feel so important, so appreciated, so cherished. And often, when we were apart, she would send messages and emails that reminded me in subtle ways how much she cared. She was forever making connections – “Oh, you’re going there? Well then I have to put you in touch with so-and-so.” She made the introduction every time. She was astute at noting a friend’s likes and interests and poof! you’d open up your mail to a lovely, little surprise. She listened, she remembered, and she connected. I often wondered how her brain kept so many facts so tidily organized, catalogued and available for recall. She remembered minute details mentioned in passing – truly a gift.

Her strength, energy and drive always astounded me and caused me to push myself to be a better, more focused, caring person. Catherine was a woman of action. She listened attentively to opinions and thoughts presented by others and did not hesitate to share hers. You mentioned a task or a desire or simply wondered aloud, and in no time, she was on it! She forged ahead. This characteristic perhaps most defined how she approached her illness – she did the required treatments with no-fuss and then forged ahead, living her life to the fullest every step of the way.

Most of all, though, Catherine was a devoted and wonderful mother who had such passion for her son. When speaking of him, the pride and joy truly radiated from every pore of her being. She worked tirelessly to set and model a solid moral foundation and work ethic for him – instilling in him a commitment to family, community, service and excellence. He will carry her legacy forward with pride.

Catherine’s friendship was a great blessing in my life, and I will miss her dearly. May she rest in peace, and may we remember her in light and love.

Lisa Kuller

From Isabelle Cajfinger

Catherine was a discreet friend who always thought about how she could help others.

Catherine knew I had a love for Trader Joe’s, so every time she went to the U.S., she would be back with a new bag/new design from that store. When I went to L.A., she thought ahead of time, always solving possible situations I may encounter and there she loaned me the biggest, yet lightest duffle bag to fold in my luggage as she was sure I’d need it on the way back to Amsterdam, and of course, I did need it.

She knew I was looking for a store in Lech where my cashmere plaids could be displayed: she brought back from her trip there the whole book of the region's stores, the relevant yellow pages copied, and filed! How many friends would do that?

Catherine was always ready to laugh and connect people — who would, of course, become my friends after I’d met them!

Each time I asked for us to get together, Catherine would say with a big smile: “You say you are in town, but you are always away!” Now she is “away,” but will always be in my heart and be part of me.

From Sherrie Zwail Enderman

"Gracious" is the word I think of when I think of Catherine.

Catherine Hewins was a gentle, loving, sincere, funny and warm woman.

I first met Catherine on my Habitat for Humanity trip to India four years ago. Although we were in a group setting, there were plenty of times we spent one-on-one, getting to know each other.

During the trip, she shared her health situation with me and I was taken aback by her courage and strength and determination. She was strong and only focused on the work to be done there, helping others in need.

One of my best takeaways from the trip was my new friendship with such a special person as Catherine. She will be greatly missed but never forgotten.

Board Corner – December 1, 2017

The Executive Board met on November 1, 2017. Below are highlights from the meeting. The full minutes will be posted on the website once they have been approved.

Approval of the minutes of the previous meeting - The minutes of the September Executive Board meeting and the October Advisory Board meeting were approved.

FAWCO Report - Lauren

Other clubs have “a proud member of FAWCO” on their website. Lauren requested we predominantly put this on our website, as well as the fact that we are a gold donor with FAWCO.

Approval of New Associate Members/Member Report - Kristin

We currently have 245 members total. Three new associate members were approved - Karina Talen, Sandra Hartenberg and Gaby Keuls.

Officer Reports


Robin submitted her report electronically to the other board members since she wasn’t present at the meeting.

Vice President

  • Christine reviewed coverage for the upcoming GMs and At Night meetings.
  • Andaz Spend - Christine shared an estimate of our current status. The lunches at the Andaz were discussed. If the Andaz does not agree to a more affordable option, we are going to come up with a new location for lunch following the meetings. Ways to cover a possible shortfall of our Andaz spend were discussed.
  • June Luncheon - it was discussed that the Veranda was extremely positively received by the club and they did a great job.
  • The November GM will be at the Hyatt Regency. Beth will communicate this to members.
  • Elections - Christine shared a detailed outline of our elections procedure, which needs to begin now. Beth will separate out Secretary and VP Communication duties.

VP Programs

Scholarship - Audrey reviewed the scholarship procedure. We will need someone from the club for the initial review of applications. The judging of the applications will be done by outside readers again, just as it was last year.

VP Communications/Secretary

Secretary role - Beth reminded the board that we can currently bring someone on in this role as a means of acclimating them to the board for next year. In the absence of someone for the job, she is willing to continue to do both roles until the end of the club year.

Old Business

Thanksgiving - Kristin investigated a group dinner at Wyer’s Restaurant at the Kimpton DeWitt Hotel. They are ready to accommodate us and will even give us a private room, if necessary. Beth will coordinate the event since Kristin will be out of town for Thanksgiving.

New Business

  • Charity gala - We need to get a date, location, and chairperson this month if we are going to have a gala. Audrey will investigate getting a date and quote from the Hyatt in the coming week. Kristin will attempt to recruit a group of co-chairs.
  • Ideas to honor longtime members were brainstormed. Kristin suggested ways to decorate their name tags so they are recognized as members of 20+ years.

The next board meeting will be December 12 at 12 p.m. at Kristin DeLong’s home (following the Meet the Newcomers Brunch).


Ask Allison: I’m Bored.

Dear Allison,

I'm bored. I know I will be going back, so I don't want a full-time job in my career field. I'd like to work part-time or get involved in a project or venture —something new. How can I re-invent myself while I'm here?

—Bored in Amsterdam

Dear Bored in Amsterdam,

I understand what you're going through. After the first excitement, visits to museums and trips, your days might get long. I don't know what you did or what you want to do, but regardless, these pointers apply to everyone:

  • Find something you are passionate about and create your job. That way you can make it part-time and be in power of what you do.
  • If you don't know what your passion is, start a project with someone; it may lead to another project or job.
  • Volunteer. It's a great way to try new things and possibly discover a talent or passion. The AWCA and schools have a lot of opportunities for volunteering.
  • Take a class or workshop in something you've never had time for, such as painting, photography, art history, language (see Learn Dutch, below), cooking, dancing — whatever!
  • Look for a part-time job. There are plenty out there. If you don't know what you want to do, start attending professional workshops and seminars, dabbling in new things.
  • Start talking about it, so people know you are looking. Ask advice and invite others who have re-invented themselves for a coffee. Ask them how they are doing and how they did it.
  • Learn Dutch. Practice everywhere you go and don't give up. Once you speak Dutch, other possibilities will open up and finding a job might be easier. It will always look good on your CV.

When you hear yourself thinking, "Hey, I could do that," you know you're getting warm. Start exploring the possibilities. Remember that failing is part of re-inventing. You might have to try a few things along the way before you find the right fit. Believe me, I know; I have reinvented myself more than once.

Try not to worry about the money. If you've been out of the workforce for awhile, or you are starting in a new field, you'll need to ease back in. If you're thinking, "I'm not getting paid what I'm worth," stop. It's never a waste to try new things. Eventually, you may earn money, but if not, ask yourself if it matters. The real reward during your time here is growth. And that always looks good on your CV.

It's never too late to learn something or start a new career. Just get going.

Good luck, Bored in Amsterdam. You are not alone.

Beyond Germany: Five Must-Visit Christmas Markets 

by Jennifer van Lent

Everyone knows about the legendary German Christmas markets - glühwein and feuerzangenbowle, the Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas store, bratwurst and currywurst stalls. For my family, Christmas isn't the same without visiting Bonn, Cologne or one of the many German markets located within driving distance of the Amsterdam area.

However, over the years, we have started to travel further afield during the holiday season, and we have discovered some amazing locations outside of Germany which help us get into the holiday spirit. I hope you find inspiration for a future trip and enjoy the mini-tour of — drumroll, please— my top five places to visit during the Christmas season.

Step back in time in Matera, Italy  

Many of you might be asking, "what and where is Matera"? While Matera in Basilicata (and I'll add Lecce, in Puglia) aren't the first cities that spring to mind for a Christmas location, I have included this UNESCO World Heritage Site as a must-visit due to the incredible Living Nativity Matera Edition presentation in the ancient Sasso district of Matera. Hosted by the city of Matera during December, over 400 volunteers re-enact the Nativity story in a setting which evokes ancient Bethlehem. It is an amazing and surreal experience to walk through the sassi (stone houses) of the ancient city. Christmas markets are located around town and also in towns across the region (ie. Lecce in Puglia). My husband and I stayed at the wonderful Locanda di San Martino in the Sasso Barisano. You need at least four days to visit and explore this hidden treasure of Italy. The easiest way to get there is to fly to either Bari or Brindisi and rent a car to drive an hour to Matera. This is a Christmas experience you will never forget.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus - and he's in Helsinki

Helsinki is an off-the-beaten-path location for traveling at Christmas. With various markets - including a big Christmas market - located throughout the city, it is the only place where I have actually visited an outdoor fur market. Which - if you think about it - is logical in Finland. Add snow and cold, beautiful harbors and majestic buildings which mirror the architecture of classic St Petersburg, Russia and you have a perfect December holiday destination. The bonus when I visited in December: I actually did meet Santa Claus as he and Mrs. Claus arrived at the airport and were greeted by local television crews. My favorite place to stay is the Hilton Helsinki Strand.

Fun for Kids: Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

London is a great city to visit any time of year, but at Christmas, one highlight for children from two to 92 is Hyde Park Winter Wonderland. It has it all in one location: ice skating, an ice bar (adults only!), attractions, beer tents, a Christmas circus....the list goes on. Once you have tired of the Hyde Park crowds (yes, it is crowded!), there are 101 other Christmas markets and holiday activities to keep you busy in the City of Dickens.

It's better in Budapest

Budapest is one of the must-visit cities for millennials right now, and during the holiday season, you can see why it is top of the list. The Christmas Market on Vorosmarty Square (the main square) has its own unique Hungarian feel - fabulous handmade items and local crafts, great holiday delicacies, concerts, light shows, performances and more. The city is decked with holiday charm, dining is amazing (and often surprisingly affordable) and - if you are lucky - you might be able to soak in one of the famous outdoor spas under falling snow. It is an easy weekend destination: my favorite hotel is the Boscolo Budapest, but you can find a host of locations at any price range.

Seasonal serenity in Strasbourg 

Strasbourg at Christmas is high on my "Christmas market x-factor" list for many reasons:

  • the markets continue to Dec 30 (German Christmas markets usually end on the 23rd);
  • It's an easy drive or train ride (via a connection in either Cologne or Paris); and
  • with Strasbourg hosting its first Christmas market in the 12th century, it is one of the oldest, ongoing Christmas market towns in Europe

....and of course, the food and wine are just SO great!

Explore over 300 chalets and 20+ markets across the city. Every year, there is a "guest country" market which highlights its unique holiday traditions: this year, the host country is Iceland. Our family loved staying at the funky, half-timbered Hotel de L'Europe.

Thanksgiving Turkeys in The Netherlands

by Jennifer van Lent
Photo by Alison Marras on Unsplash

Haarlem area members have a secret for roasting the perfect Thanksgiving turkey. Instead of the hassle of basting the turkey every hour, worrying whether it's ready to serve or has been roasting too long, ask your butcher (or in Dutch, "slager") to roast it for you! 

Many years ago, I stumbled upon (the hard way!) how to serve the perfect turkey. I was celebrating my first Thanksgiving in the Netherlands with family and friends and ordered a beautiful, free-range turkey from her local slager, Rob. When I arrived home with the bird, I discovered it was too big for my oven! So Slager Rob saved the day: he roasted the turkey, filled with my homemade stuffing, in his roaster at the butcher shop. The result was a beautiful, tasty turkey without any of the fuss. Since then, each year Slagerij Rob has roasted turkeys for my Thanksgiving dinner, and his business has expanded to other area members.

His English is great, and don't forget to mention you are an American celebrating Thanksgiving. After roasting perfect turkeys for so many years, Rob has a soft spot in his heart for our holiday! Slagerij Rob has been roasting Thanksgiving turkeys for Haarlem members for 17 years and has shops in Badhoevedorp and Zwanenburg (plus a large catering business). Ask for Rob when you call: 020 822 2911.