Women of Achievement & Courage in Healthcare – West Michigan
Carol Van Andel is the 2014 Women of Achievement & Courage in Healthcare – West Michigan Trillium Award honoree. The Women of Achievement & Courage awards were established in 1990 to honor and recognize women whose accomplishments inspire others to achieve their life goals and undertake challenges making a positive difference for individuals, communities, and Michigan. The Trillium Award recognizes a Michigan woman for lifetime achievement of inspiration and leadership.
“I’m grateful for this prestigious honor, but at the same time humbled. Because in accepting this award, it only makes me more keenly aware of all that still needs to be done. I also have to remind myself that whatever talents I might have are gifts from God, so I have to use those talents wisely.
“When my husband, David, was diagnosed with cancer shortly after our marriage, it thrust him into the role of patient, and myself as caregiver. And believe me, we were two blind honeymooners who never saw it coming. Since then, I’ve steeled myself for the possibility that virtually anything can happen to anyone. I’ve seen people suffer and die, and I know that these earthly vessels of ours are entirely temporary. So I encourage others—women, especially—to armor themselves for the battles ahead, whether it be the challenges of raising kids, or nurturing a marriage, or reaching out to help entire strangers who are in need.
“My destiny—though I never could have predicted it—is to stand beside my husband and harness the Van Andel Institute as an instrument for dynamic change. But it takes more than gutsy resolve. For me, it starts and ends with a walk of faith, and whispering the words from Proverbs, realizing that you have to ‘trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.’ There’s power in embracing that. And if I can channel that power in ways that soothe even one more person in pain, it’s worth the effort, and worth the love.”
A West Michigan native who is passionate about her community, Carol is widely recognized for her commitment to education, children’s issues, health and human services, and the arts, and for her ability to bring people together in support of organizations providing these essential services. As executive director of the David and Carol Van Andel Foundation and through her extensive involvement as a volunteer and board member, she has provided leadership and support to dozens of West Michigan and national organizations.
Carol holds a B.A. in business from Hope College. She is a trustee of the Michigan Colleges Alliance and the Davenport University Governing Board; a member of the Van Andel Education Institute Advisory Council; a board member of Grand Action, the Public Museum of Grand Rapids Friends Foundation, the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids, and Bethany Christian Services; a nominating member of Opera Grand Rapids; and a campaign cabinet member of Wedgewood Christian Services.
Carol is past president of the Ada Christian School Education Foundation and Opera Grand Rapids, and a past board member of many organizations, including Christian Schools International Foundation, Grand Rapids Christian Schools Foundation, Hospice Foundation of Greater Grand Rapids, Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, Alliance for Health, Pine Rest Foundation, Operation Smile, and Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park.
Carol is married to David Van Andel and is the mother of four sons.
Visit here for information on the Women of Achievement & Courage West Michigan Celebration.