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WS YOU 177
Luke Blommesteyn and Alphonsus Blommesteyn
Stouffville Creek
Whitchurch-Stouffville Public Library
Ontario Trillium Foundation
United Way Toronto & York Region
Congratulations to the WS YOU 177
winning story in the Listen to a Life Contest!

Luke Blommesteyn is a 13-year-old, grade 8 student at St. Brigid Elementary School in Stouffville. He interviewed his grandfather, 81-year-old Alphonsus Blommesteyn.

Luke enjoys playing sports, camping, and reading.

Luke receives a $250 gift card from a major retailer courtesy of Stouffville Creek Retirement Residence. He also receives a framed award certificate featuring his winning story…

A birthday in a family of ten siblings is a big deal. Sadly, no one remembered my grandpa's fifth birthday when the Nazis invaded Amsterdam in 1940 only a few days before.

"It was a lot different than it is now," says Grandpa.

"Growing up in a war was very hard for my family. It was hard to sell any grain from the windmills because prices were so high."

My grandfather's family lived very close to the airport. It was a key target for Allied bombing. Their small house would shake when a bomb hit. They would hide under the kitchen table waiting for a bombing episode to end, in fear of an errant bomb directly hitting their home.

The war finally ended in 1945. My grandfather was ten. His father would die two years later, leaving my great-grandmother to raise the ten children alone, in a war-torn city.

"We didn't live in a very big house," Grandpa explains. "Only a kitchen, loft and a living room into which ten kids could barely squeeze."

"We could do a lot of things under the radar," says my grandfather about having only one parent at 12.

Years later, my grandfather would pack his bags and move to Canada for a new start. He would marry a childhood friend who lived on that same street in Amsterdam; I now know her as my grandmother.

In Canada he strived to a better life for his five sons.

Now that I've learned my grandpa's story, I understand the hardships he went through for his family, and everything he sacrificed for a better life. Now he isn't just my grandfather – he's also my hero.

WS YOU 177 Contest