Blyth youths earn two of 220 international Tim Hortons scholarships
BY DENNY SCOTT
Emily van Leeuwen and Ryan Van Dorp, both of Blyth, claimed two of the 220 Tim Hortons Scholarships across Canada and the United States thanks to short essays they penned about what the iconic business means to them.
The scholarship program is open to employees of the restaurant chain like van Leeuwen, and, this year, challenged applicants to, in one word, describe Tim Hortons and how that word represents the business’ brand.
For van Leeuwen, that one word was “home”.
“I wrote about how it’s home for me, especially during the pandemic,” she said in an interview with The Citizen. “It became a second home. It got me out of my house and my coworkers are my best friends right now. I don’t really see anyone else.”
She said that, from a corporate standpoint, having people feel like Tim Hortons is comfortable enough to feel like home is a good thing and that idea likely scored her some extra points in the competition.
Since the announcement of the scholarships, van Leeuwen has stopped working at the Blyth Tim Hortons to focus on her education. She is a student of the University of Waterloo where she is studying psychology, however for the time being all her classes are online, so she will remain in Blyth.
When she does eventually get to Waterloo to study, van Leeuwen said she would consider working at a Tim Hortons there, saying she enjoys both the atmosphere and environment.
Van Dorp chose the word “control” for his essay, saying that, like in a science experiment, Tim Hortons is a controlled atmosphere, a constant, that helps people feel comfortable and safe.
“I wanted to do a word that could capture the general sense of [Tim Hortons] but also be more creative,” he said. “In a scientific experiment there is a control, which always stays the same while everything else changes around it, and that’s the word I chose.”
Van Dorp explained that he didn’t initially pick a word, but started writing about what Tim Hortons meant to him.
“I was just writing what I wanted to write about: [Tim Hortons] is a place you can always go to and feel comfortable. I found that “control” was a more creative way to explain that.”
Van Dorp said his essay’s message may be similar to others, but because he chose to illustrate what Tim Hortons is the way he did, it won’t be exactly the same, which may have played into why he was chosen.
“I think the idea set itself apart from others,” he said, adding he hoped it was a well-written and creative essay, leading to the win.
Van Dorp is attending Brock University in St. Catharines this year and studying business administration. He said he would consider returning to Tim Hortons after taking a break from working there for school in the coming week.
The scholarship-winning essays van Leeuwen and Van Dorp penned are below:
Emily van Leeuwen - Home
There are many words that one could use to describe Tim Hortons and its brand. Some people may use the words “fresh” or “coffee” or “friendly”, but those words, as good as they are, don’t quite cut it.
For me, Tim Hortons is “home”. It’s a place where I can go to feel loved and respected, not only as an employee, but as a customer as well. At Tim Hortons, it’s not the drive-thru times or the up-selling that we emphasize, it’s the customer. We treat every customer as family and do our best to help them out. Behind the counter, there’s even more going on.
Each employee has the backs of their coworkers. You can often hear us telling jokes to each other, having conversations, and working together as one unified team. If you look even closer, you can see the bond that has formed between the employees. You can find them sticking up for each other and helping each other out.
What I’ve learned through my time at Tim Hortons is that a team doesn’t necessarily need to work like cogs in a machine. As long as each person respects the other people, recognizes a gap that needs to be filled, and fills it, the team can work just as smoothly, nay, more smoothly than cogs in a machine.
These qualities are ones that describe a family, and for me, wherever my family is, my home is as well. Tim Hortons is where I go to relax and have a coffee when I’m not working. When I am working, Tim Hortons becomes my home away from home. It’s where people show love and respect to each other in simple ways – through a smile or an encouraging word, or even just joking around. This simplicity speaks volumes.
The chosen family is where home is. And Tim Hortons is the family I choose. It’s the pinnacle of the community; the piece of the puzzle that brings them all together. Without Tim Hortons, the pull of home wouldn’t feel as strong and I would still be scouring the earth for a place to call my home. If home is where the heart is, my heart belongs to the community, and in turn belongs to Tim Hortons.
Ryan Van Dorp - Control
One word to describe Tim Hortons would be the control. In science, the control variable is the one thing that does not change in the experiment. It creates a sense of balance and purpose in a constantly changing experiment. Tim Hortons does the same thing in life.
People’s lives are filled with ups and downs. There is joy, fun, and happiness. But also heartache, grief, and pain. But through it all, there is always Tims. When people are happy they celebrate at Tim Hortons. It becomes a place to share their joy with others. A place to get together and be happy together. Major life achievements warrant celebration. Tim Hortons becomes the perfect place to go and be happy.
When catching up with an old friend there can be uncertainty about how things will play out. But when they grab a coffee here they are in a place they know and feel comfortable in. This familiarity can take the edge off and cut through the nerves for that best of conversations to unfold. And when life takes a sour turn and people are down on themselves it is a place of comfort. Because no matter who they are or how they feel they are welcomed and accepted.
When mourning a loved one it is a place to reminisce and be comforted. With that familiar and friendly atmosphere, one can always be assured to find memories of the one they lost here. And they hope to make new ones with the people they still have left in the world. It is a place for unlikely friendships.
Being a neutral ground where everyone is equal, friendships are inevitable. It is there in everyday life as well. When going to work it is a morning coffee and a friendly smile. It starts off the day the right way. No matter how someone is feeling when they wake up it will help to put them into a good mood. When going to watch a local sporting event grabbing a coffee to watch with will never fail to bring about the right mood.
In life it is essential that people find things that are unchangingly positive. These cause stability and support to keep life headed in the right direction. Tim Hortons is that for many people. No matter race, sex, or religion it is constant. People need a communal place that, no matter their mood, they can go to and be treated fairly.