A surprised Kathy Derksen, president of the Langley Hospice Society’s board, was named Langley’s Harold Stafford Good Citizen of the Year on Tuesday night.
Derksen has been president of the Langley Hospice Society’s board for many years.
“When I started with Hospice, we had one half-time staff person, and we have grown during this 30 years to almost 20 staff people, and have increased all of the services that we provide to our Langley community,” she said.
But what they wanted for years was to build a free-standing hospice residence building.
Derksen said that dream was finally achieved this year, with the opening of the Doug and Fran MacDonald Langley Hospice Residence in May.
“I was just so very proud to have been involved with building the residence for the Langley community,”
She thanked everyone for their support for hospice over the years.
“I shouldn’t be up here, you all should be up here with me,” she said.
But according to those who work with her, Derksen is a tireless volunteer. Although she still works a job outside of her role with the hospice, she also puts in as many hours as the paid staff, said Langley Hospice Society executive director Shannon Todd Booth.
“She is the epitome of lead by example,” Todd Booth said.
A support letter from the hospice’s staff for Derksen’s nomination noted that Derksen started as a volunteer in 1991, when the society got its first designated palliative care room in Langley Memorial Hospital.
By 1992, Derksen had joined the board, and was part of a group of volunteers that bought a small house in Brookswood for grief support programs. She was involved in setting up a fundraising thrift store for the society, Second Story Treasures in Walnut Grove, and oversaw hospice expand to a 10-bed interim residence in the Maple Hill building at Langley Memorial Hospital.
There have been more expansions of programs and facilities, culminating this year in the opening of the new freestanding residence.
According to Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce CEO Cory Redekop, Derksen was among a distinguished collection of nominees for the award this year.
READ MORE: Langley’s new hospice set to open its doors
READ MORE: Langley creates a home for end of life
“We had 10 nominees from all walks of life,” he said.
All were impressive in their own right, he said.
As is tradition, Derksen was brought to the Christmas dinner meeting of the chamber of commerce without being told she was the recipient, or even that she had been nominated.
“I was absolutely gobsmacked,” she said.
The award is named for the late Harold “H.D.” Stafford, who was an active volunteer, businessman, and politician in Langley for many years, and epitomized good citizenship and getting involved with important causes.
Last year’s winner was Manjit Gill, a donor, fundraiser, and volunteer to the Langley Memorial Hospital Foundation and other local causes.
Have a story tip? Email: email@example.com