Langley Township volunteers were honoured Thursday night at the annual volunteer appreciation banquet, held at Langley Events Centre. Three trophies to outstanding volunteers were also handed out.
The Pete Swensson award for outstanding community, athletic and educational achievement by high school students went to Keara Graham.
The Pete Swensson Outstanding Community Youth Award is given to a Langley student in Grades 8 to 12, from one of the area’s secondary schools, in recognition of his or her athletic, scholastic, and community efforts. Personal qualities such as leadership, work ethic, and initiative play a major role in the evaluation process.
Pete Swensson was an internationally recognized athlete and photographer and an outstanding member of the Langley community. The Township of Langley’s first Recreation Director, he was the originator of the Langley Walk. Swensson was committed to the overall development of youth, and this award is named in his honour.
Nominees for the 2013 Pete Swensson Outstanding Community Youth Award were: Morgan Buckner of Langley Fundamental Middle and Secondary School; Micaela Dickof of Langley Christian School; Keara Graham of Walnut Grove Secondary School; Michael Miller of D.W. Poppy Secondary School and Adam Schonewille of Aldergrove Community Secondary School.
Winner of the trophy was Graham. A Grade 12 student at Walnut Grove Secondary School, she is dedicated to making an impact at her school, in the community, and in the world. Described as a “difference maker,” she is the initiator and leader of the school’s Me to We Club which has raised more than $10,000 to build a school in Haiti. Graham volunteers at Langley Gardens Retirement Community, Canadian Blood Services, and the Langley Vineyard, serves on Student Council, and mentors Grade 8 students.
Having played hockey for 10 years, she is co-captain of the Langley Lightning Midget A1 team and was a member of the 2011 BC Provincial Championship Team. She is currently her team’s leading scorer. A cross country runner, she also excels in track and field, earning a fourth place finish in the 200m Hurdles at the 2010 BC Summer Games.
An “A” Honour Roll and “Effort” Honour Roll student since 2008, she has received the WGSS Gator Award two times, was in the top 3% in Grade 12 for the fall term, and has served as a member of her school’s Humanitarian Club and Special Event Planners And Activities Committee.
A columnist for her school’s online newspaper, she is also a member of the Bilingual Debate Club who participated in the 2012 Provincial Championships and has served as a volunteer and referee with Langley Girls Ice Hockey.
A recipient of the 2013 Global Citizen Scholarship, she was one of ten students chosen from across Canada who will take a trip to Costa Rica later this month for the Global Student Leaders Summit.
The John and Muriel Arnason Award went to Wayne and Cindy Van Geel.
The John and Muriel Arnason Volunteers of the Year Award honours two people who are advocates of literacy, culture, and learning, and work together as a team to make the Township of Langley a better place through charitable, philanthropic, or other means.
The award was created in memory of Muriel Arnason, the first woman to be elected to Township Council, and her husband, John. Muriel, who was made Freewoman of the Township in 2006, served on council for 26 years, and was fully supported by her husband in her political pursuits, as well as in her initiatives to foster the arts, education, and literacy.
For almost 18 years, the Van Geels have been living in Langley and raising their three children. Their children are involved in a number of activities, and those organizations have greatly benefited from Cindy and Wayne’s involvement.
Wayne has been a head coach with the Langley United Youth Soccer Association for various age groups and levels, and also served as the Director of Gyms. Cindy was a “soccer mom” who drove kids to practices and games but also served as team manager, making sure the teams ran smoothly, along with Wayne’s coaching.
Wayne’s coaching skills were also utilized by the Langley Girls Football Club, and by the Valley Ball Hockey Association. The sport of ball hockey came into the Van Geel family in 2003 and Wayne started as an assistant coach in the Peanut division. He coached several teams over the years and was also involved with the rep teams participating in the Western Challenge Cup and the National competition, held in Alberta.
Both Wayne and Cindy became part of the Valley Ball Hockey Association executive, serving as Fundraising and Sponsorship Coordinators for three years. Cindy then moved on to the role as Registrar Director – no easy task when registration numbers reached 1,150 players one season! Cindy later became Secretary of the VBHA while her husband became Head of Coaches, Vice-President, and finally President from 2010 – 2012.
As well, Cindy held positions as fundraiser, secretary, and vice-president of the Parents Advisory Committee at the former Bradshaw Elementary. She also served on the Young at Arts executive board and her sons’ Dry Grad Committees.
Wayne and Cindy’s involvement in community sport has been a team effort for many years, and has epitomized the intent of this award to recognize people who volunteer together.
The Eric Flowerdew award for volunteering went to John Jackman. Nominees for this award were Jackman, Bill Ede, Mitch Kosterman, Wayne Leach, Joanne Nicolato and Lynne VanLaarhoven.
The Eric Flowerdew Volunteer of the Year Award is presented annually to recognize the contributions that a volunteer makes to the community. It honours an individual’s outstanding dedication to the promotion of quality of life through creative, cultural, physical, or social pursuits, and to the enhancement of the Township of Langley’s community spirit.
Eric Flowerdew was a school trustee, municipal councillor, and member of the Langley Hospital Board. As Parks and Recreation Commissioner, he was instrumental in establishing the initial Parks and Recreation budget and in hiring Pete Swensson as the Township’s first Recreation Director. His commitment to volunteerism was unfailing, and in 1974 the Flowerdew family honoured his name with the award.
Jackman is a member of the pioneering Jackman family and has dedicated years of his life to keep Aldergrove’s history alive.
In 1989, the Aldergrove Heritage Society was formed to compile a history of the area into a book. He was chairman of the group, and he and other volunteers spent countless hours researching and writing to produce “The Place Between.”
He also worked to save the F.J. Hart Building. Built in 1892, it was the first telephone office in the Fraser Valley and he was determined not to see it bulldozed. It now stands as the Aldergrove Telephone Museum.
A member of the Elks Club of Canada for 45 years, he has served with the Aldergrove Elks for 22 years, helping children with speech and hearing problems, funding camps, sponsoring the Aldergrove Bruins hockey team, and contributing to drug and alcohol awareness programs.
Over the past few years, he has personally raised $3,500 in pledges during Walkathons held for the Family Hearing Resource Centre.
For 17 years, he has been instrumental in holding an annual plant and garden sale that raises money for special needs children. And at Christmas time, he delivers gifts to less fortunate children and helps the Elks organize a free annual Christmas Celebration for kids.
Along with his brother Keith, he worked with the Township of Langley to help create a cairn commemorating the contributions of their great grandfather Philip, a Royal Engineer from England who settled in Aldergrove in 1872 and later became mayor. He also worked with the Township to secure the Elks Club a temporary home in the historic schoolhouse of the old Aldergrove Elementary School building
As events chairman for the Aldergrove Elks, he presented fellow nominee and good friend Bill Ede with high quality soccer balls and a financial contribution to support the Aldergrove Spring Soccer League. Last year he allowed a large crew of Aldergrove Business Association volunteers to plant pumpkin seeds on his farm in anticipation of the Wall of Jack-o-Lanterns Halloween event, and he plans to do it again this year.
He is event co-ordinator of the Vintage Car Show that is being held later this month at the Otter Co-op by the Central Fraser Valley Chapter of the Vintage Car Club of Canada and is also part of Langley Township’s Adopt-a-Block program and helps clean more than a mile of Fraser Highway several times a year.
“The Township of Langley is an exceptional place, and our great quality of life has a lot to do with the people who give so much time, talent, and effort to the community,” said Mayor Jack Froese, who co-emceed the event with R.E. Mountain Secondary School student Nika Moeni. “It truly is our pleasure to recognize all of our outstanding volunteers.”