‘How sweet that people think of me’

Almelo knows a lot of lovely people. For the action Think of each other made a call in the neighborhood to nominate Almelo people who have done something special in the year 2022. The editors would like to put a ‘Christmas angel’ in the spotlight. Almelo Christmas Angel 2022 is Monique van der Veen.

Monique is busy when the editorial duo from neighboring Almelo enter ‘t Dok assembly hall. She has just come from work and is peeling kilos of potatoes. Fortunately, she gets help from two volunteers. “I keep peeling, then the potatoes can go on the fire,” she welcomes the editors.

“Today we have kale and a schnitzel. It’s a bit of a crazy combination, but not bad, right?” The kilos of potatoes, farmer’s throat and more than seventy schnitzels are not intended for the editors of indebuurt, but for more than seventy Almelo residents who do not have much money to use.

‘I like this’

She knows that she has to be photographed for a Christmas event, but the fact that she has been proclaimed Almelo’s Christmas angel is an extra surprise for her. “I’m almost crying, I didn’t see this coming. I think that’s beautiful”, says Monique. Almelosen is always there for others, now she herself is being rewarded.

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Monique peels kilos of potatoes for De Eethoek. Photo: in the Almelo quarter

The dining area in Almelo

In 2015, Monique started Stichting De Eethoek in Almelo with her then-husband Stephan, a soup kitchen for minimum wage earners. Monique was in debt for years and knows exactly what ‘her group of people’ needs. “We offer a good, nutritious meal twice a week, with a listening ear. And I don’t judge anyone. You don’t just come here for a meal, there is often a lot of sadness behind it.”

Cooking in the kitchen ‘t Dok

In the kitchen of the community center ‘t Dok on Sumatraplein, meals are prepared twice a week for more than seventy diners. They can pick up the meals for free in the late afternoon. “Sometimes they are the only hot meals they eat,” Monique says of the need for De Eethoek. Monique fears that the number of meals will increase to over a hundred in the near future. “People need money.”

They are sometimes the only hot meals they eat

Move after move

The soup kitchen found a new home in ‘t Dok just before the corona crisis. “We have moved many times. We have been to the playground Het Nieuwland and the canteen in IISPA. I am very happy that we have a good home here in ‘t Dok and that we can stay here for the foreseeable future.”

The corona crisis broke out shortly after the move to ‘t Dok. Instead of eating together at long tables, meals were delivered. “We drove around Almelo in cars to get food to people’s homes. Yes, you have to do something, you don’t want to leave those people without a meal.” Now that the corona crisis is over, De Eethoek is also heading into calmer waters. “Everyone can now pick up meals here again.”

A turbulent year for Monique

For Monique herself, 2022 was a turbulent year. She divorced her husband this year. “It resulted in me having to look for paid work again. Luckily I found that. I am happy that my new boss is making room for me at De Eethoek.” Because of the morning shifts, Monique can help with cooking and serving the meals in the afternoon. “Sometimes my work also donates food to De Eethoek, which I think is very sweet of them.”

Almelo Christmas Angel 2022

The fact that Monique has been proclaimed ‘Almelo’s Christmas Angel 2022’ means a lot to her. She fights back the tears. “I do this work for the people who need it so badly. Not to be rewarded myself. Still, it is very sweet that people think of me and that they have signed me up for indebuurt. Usually we also receive a a lot of gratitude from our diners, but this gesture is very heartwarming.”

Monique receives a figure of a Christmas angel from the neighborhood. “I’ve put it in a nice place at home.” There is also a Christmas package filled with tasty products. “I’m going to enjoy that in the near future. I leave the box closed for a while and only unpack it at home. It’s been a long time since I got a Christmas present.”

With Denk aan säinen, indebuurt and eight newspaper titles join forces by highlighting stories and initiatives at different times of the year. Our goal is to connect people. The Christmas Angel campaign is the second in a row, after we celebrated friendships with stories about Bert and Wouter and about Mariël and Manuela in October during the Week against Loneliness.

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