The Cornerstones in Practice: Alumni Service Award

by Christopher Martin and Christian Brazo

For Sandy ’91 and Doug Van Iwaarden ’91, letters from Azusa Pacific University are a familiar sight. As veteran volunteers for Walkabout, APU’s annual outdoor leadership retreat for APU student-leaders, the Van Iwaardens receive multiple letters regarding preparation and training for the back-packing trip. So when Sandy saw an envelope with the APU logo stamped in the upper left-hand corner last summer, she set it aside to review later.

It was only when Doug arrived home and opened the letter himself that the Van Iwaardens learned that APU named them the recipients of the 2004 Alumni Service Award.

“We don’t do any of these things in hopes of receiving recognition,” Doug said. “We do this because we truly enjoy being around APU students. We get our own batteries recharged by the time we spend with them.”

The award is fitting, considering the Van Iwaardens’ habit of volunteering for service trips since their APU graduation. After all, they met on a trip to Mexicali as APU students and both participated in Walkabout as students themselves in 1989. In fact, Sandy holds more than 25 years of experience on Mexicali mission teams, beginning in her days as a high school student. And as one would expect, after so many years of participating in these events, the Van Iwaardens cherish many favorite memories.

“Every year, one of the greatest moments during Walkabout is when the students climb to the peak of a mountain after their solitude period,” Doug said. “They are just struck by the natural beauty of God’s creation and spontaneously break into praise songs. I describe it as seeing the hand of God on the mountaintop.”

According to Craig Wallace ’81, director of alumni relations, the Van Iwaardens demonstrate the many qualities APU looks to honor with its Alumni Service Award.

“Doug and Sandy model what it means to be servant leaders,” said Wallace. “They both give so much back to APU and our students in a unique and tangible way, and we’re pleased we can recognize them for their commitment.”

As for the Van Iwaardens, their happiness stems from a continued involvement in the events that had such a lasting impact on them when they were students.

“We really enjoy being around APU students as God works in their lives,” said Doug. “They return from these experiences in awe of God’s creation, and it’s just great to be a part of that.”