The things people do make a great difference to the world around us. A kind gesture, helpful action, or inspiring words can have a profound impact on someone else’s life.
In the Township of Langley, there are many people who go out of their way to do kind, helpful, and inspiring things for others.
On April 2, those volunteers were celebrated for everything they contribute to this community. The Township held its annual Volunteer Appreciation and Awards Evening at the Langley Events Centre, where hundreds of guests of honour enjoyed dinner, entertainment, and presentations.
During the event, awards for outstanding volunteer efforts were presented to a special student, adult, and couple.
The Eric Flowerdew Volunteer Award recipient was Howie Vickberg.
A Township of Langley resident for 40 years, Howie has been a driving force behind a number of special events, fundraisers, and service clubs.
As Chair and a member of the Organizing Committee for Langley’s Relay for Life from 2005 to 2013, Howie was instrumental in helping the Relay grow into an event that has attracted more than 90 teams and up to 900 people, raising millions of dollars for the Canadian Cancer Society.
As Director of Protocol for the 2014 Langley BC Seniors Games, Howie helped stage an event that attracted the most participants in the Game’s 27-year history, and called on the services of more than 1,000 volunteers.
A Fort Langley resident himself, Howie has helped carry on the village’s traditions as Chair of the Fort Langley May Day Parade Celebrations Committee, a member of the Fort Langley Enhancement Society, and a member and two-term president of the Fort Langley Lions Club. He organized and hosted the Fort Langley Lions Seniors Dinner for ten years and raised more than $65,000 for those in need through the Fort Langley Roctober Dance.
His efforts can also be felt locally as a judge with Langley Has Talent and a driver with Operation Red Nose, and as far away as Melaque, Mexico, where Howie and a friend collected soccer equipment and school supplies for a school there.
Howie, who served two terms as a Township of Langley Councillor from 2002 to 2008, is currently a member of the Aldergrove Rotary Club, a Director of the Langley Animal Protection Society, and collects donations for the Salvation Army’s Kettle Campaign every Christmas.
The Eric Flowerdew Volunteer Award is presented annually to recognize contributions that volunteers make 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.
Nominees for the 2014 Eric Flowerdew Award were Brenda Singbeil, Cheryl Young, Gordon Zacher, Howie Vickberg, Les Clay, Russ Simpson and Sharon Wells-Ackermans.
The Pete Swensson Outstanding Community Youth Award recipient was Sumara Stroshein.
An International Baccalaureate Diploma Student at R.E. Mountain Secondary, Sumara’s scores in this rigorous academic program are so high that she can skip her first year of university and enroll directly into her second year of post-secondary classes. Now in Grade 12, she has maintained straight As throughout high school and has a current Grade Point Average of 94%.
The founding member and president of Mountain’s award-winning Green Team, Sumara spearheaded the annual Langley Green Team Conference and serves on Langley Township’s Youth Advisory Committee. She volunteers with the Quest Food Exchange and has participated in the Model United Nations and Red Cross Global Issues Symposium For Youth. A member of Langley Community Music School’s Fiddle Group, she has busked to fundraise for World Vision, and in Grade 10, Sumara took seven weeks off school to volunteer in Nepal and India.
As a member and coach of the Langley Gymnastics Competitive Team, she has won four All Around Provincial Titles and took First All Around in the 2013 Canadian Western Championships. Sumara has been named Most Dedicated Athlete, Most Improved Athlete, and Athlete of the Year in gymnastics and won the Amanda Jack Memorial Award for Most Inspirational Gymnast. Also a cross country athlete, Sumara places in Langley District’s top-3 each year.
The Pete Swensson Outstanding Community Youth Award is given to a Langley student in Grade 11 or 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 2015 Pete Swensson Outstanding Community Youth Award were Alixandra Johnson of D.W. Poppy Secondary School, Cassi Sauer of Langley Fundamental Middle and Secondary School, Emma Harrison of Walnut Grove Secondary School, Marieke De Vynck of Langley Christian School, Michael Pratt of Brookswood Senior Secondary School, Shannon Walker of Langley Secondary School, Sumara Stroshein of R.E. Mountain Secondary School and Terrisa Inthapanya of Aldergrove Community Secondary School.
The John and Muriel Arnason Award recipient were Ted and Lynda Lightfoot.
For more than 40 years, this couple has been working together as a team. Lately, their time and effort has gone towards promoting Langley’s heritage, protecting historic buildings, and helping meet the needs of the older population.
Both Ted and Lynda have been members of the Langley Heritage Society since 2005. Ted served on the board of directors, was the CN Station Liaison, and started the Hands on Heritage campaign to promote awareness of the community’s history and heritage. He also set up the Fort Langley Conservation Garden, helped restore the old Norris Interurban train station, and worked with local high school shop students to build a carriage house.
In 2011, the Lightfoots received a Heritage Conservation Award from the Langley Heritage Society and were presented with a Community Heritage Register Recognition Plaque from the Township of Langley for their commitment to restoring their own heritage home, the Leaf House. They were also presented with an Outstanding Achievement Award from Heritage BC last year.
The couple is equally committed to ensuring the needs of our community’s seniors are meet.
Lynda is a founding member of the Triple A Senior Housing Committee, which is working to provide affordable, accessible, and appropriate housing to those who are aging. Both she and Ted have volunteered to reach out to local seniors and encourage them to discuss their needs by helping with the Committee’s community events, group discussions, and a survey.
The John and Muriel Arnason 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.
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.
Nominees for the 2014 John and Muriel Arnason Award were Dave and Kay Turner and Ted and Lynda Lightfoot.
“There are so many people in the Township of Langley who are willing to give their time, effort, and talent to help others and make this an exceptional community,” said Mayor Jack Froese. “It really is an honour to celebrate our volunteers and let them know how much we appreciate everything they do. We have a lot to be thankful for.”
Froese presented the Volunteer Appreciation awards along with co-emcee Cassidy Hryckiw, a Grade 11 student at Langley Secondary School who is serving her second year on the Township of Langley’s Youth Advisory Committee.
The recipients of the Flowerdew and Arnason Awards received a $750 monetary award to contribute to a recognized charity or society of their choice, and the Swensson Award winner received a $750 scholarship.