Langley Township council paid tribute to a number of outstanding people during the volunteer appreciation and awards evening at the Langley Events Centre on Thursday.
This year’s recipient of the Eric Flowerdew volunteer of the year award was Jan Morgan.
A member of Soroptimist International of the Langleys since 1988, Morgan embodies the qualities the Flowerdew award seeks to honour — outstanding dedication to the promotion of quality of life through creative, cultural, physical, or social pursuits, and to the enhancement of the Township’s community spirit.
Each year, she gathers a team of Soroptimists to bowl for Big Brothers Big Sisters, organizes a Remembrance Day wreath to remember fallen soldiers, co-ordinates various fundraisers to help women in crisis, and puts her artistic talents to work creating bras and helping to organize Bras for a Cause, which raises funds for women with cancer.
She has also helped the children and families of Douglas Park Community School for more than 15 years, co-ordinating the hot breakfast program and helping with fundraising events such as the annual garage sale. As well, she supports her husband John in the Langley Central Rotary club and has been awarded the Paul Harris Fellowship for her “service above self.”
Langley Christmas Bureau and Downtown Langley Ambassador Program also benefit from her time and dedication. As well, she helps with the Rotary Wine Festival and Breakfast with Santa, adorns the promotional window spaces and decorates the venue for Bras for a Cause, co-ordinates fundraisers including the Arts Alive hot dog stand and bean soup sale, and assists at the Big Brothers Big Sisters golf tournament. She is always the first to offer to lend a hand, and is known for her energy, enthusiasm, and wonderful disposition.
The Pete Swensson outstanding community youth award, given to a Langley student in recognition of his or her athletic, scholastic, and community efforts, has gone to Sunny Bui, a Grade 12 honour student at Aldergrove Community Secondary.
Bui has played junior and senior basketball and rugby, making the rugby Fraser Valley and provincial qualifiers, playing on the Fraser Valley District Championship team, and being named his school’s most committed player in rugby backs. He has earned the AA Athletic Award every year since Grade 8, along with the athletic director’s award and an outstanding leadership award for basketball.
A youth representative on the Township’s Recreation, Culture, and Parks Advisory Committee, he also serves on the Township’s Youth Advisory Committee. He has placed in the top 15 per cent of students in the district and was awarded a diploma from the French Ministry of Education. He currently volunteers at Abbotsford Menno Hospital, helped with the B.C. Summer Games, and served as a spirit leader at his school for three years.
He was part of the Thunder Down Under Australia Ruby Tour in 2009-2010, has received a superintendent’s award for his excellent work habits, and was a School District 35 leadership conference spirit leader and organizer.
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 a better place through charitable, philanthropic, or other means.
This year’s recipients were Joan and Joe Topolewski.
Since moving to Langley in 1973, the Topolewskis have spent thousands of volunteer hours keeping their community informed and educated.
Known as the “do-some” twosome, they have helped the Langley RCMP for years, participating in programs such as Block Watch, performing foot patrols around Willowbrook Shopping Centre, and helping at bike rodeos and other community events.
The couple has been honoured by ICBC and were recognized by the provincial government for their years of crime prevention service. They have been Block Watch co-ordinators in their mobile home park and taken part in Local Government Awareness Day, and Joe was responsible for repairing, painting, and hauling the Bobby Block Watch house trailer all around the Lower Mainland for many years.
On a personal level, both of these seniors are troopers. At one point, Joan broke her knee after a run-in with an inattentive driver, but was back to her volunteer duties within weeks. Joe, who lost his arm in machinery accident in 1965, goes out to BCIT every week to help new amputees use their prosthetics.
They joined Block Watch 15 years ago. They also help with the Lock Out Auto Crime program at malls, movie theatres, and other major parking lots.
Joe is in his 80s, and his eyesight it failing – but his sharp wit is not – and Joan keeps everything on track by cooking, cleaning, driving, and organizing their volunteer activities. Both are members of the First Responders program and help out in Township parks whenever needed.