Dean Rohrs was the featured speaker at the sixth annual Celebration of International Women's Day presented by the Rotary Club of Langley Central on Saturday.

Dean Rohrs was the featured speaker at the sixth annual Celebration of International Women's Day presented by the Rotary Club of Langley Central on Saturday.

VIDEO: A reminder about courage for International Women’s Day in Langley

Rotary Club of Langley Central event honors three as 'unsung heroes' of the community

The Sixth Annual Celebration of International Women’s Day presented by the Rotary Club of Langley Central heard how much courage women in poor countries need just to get through their daily life.

The message was delivered by Dean Rohrs, a Rotary Club of Langley Central member, who has been appointed 2017-18 Vice President of Rotary International.

Rohrs was the featured speaker at the club luncheon held in on Saturday at Newlands Golf and Country Club in Langley City.

“Think about those fleeing from the untenable situation in Syria,” Rohrs said.

“(About) women in cultural situations who have absolutely no choice of their own and are owned by men. Think about slavery and just about sheer poverty.”

And don’t forget about those closer to home, she added.

“But today in our our own communities, and I would even venture to say that amongst some of us women here in this room, there are those who face life on a daily basis needing courage to survive and to succeed.”

Rohrs said our whole social structure has been slow to change from a very male-dominated society to one of total equality.

“I wish I could say something different but patriarchy is prevalent around the world in the same way racism and xenophobia are,” Rohrs said.

“We can’t hide from it, not even here.”

Courage is also required of men, to change from the patriarchal model and to accept the equality of all sexes, Rohrs said.

“It’s a fight being fought on every level and sometime it succeeds and other times it does not.”

Rohrs is currently serving as one of 17 Directors on the Rotary International Board, representing Canada, Bermuda, Alaska and 10 other states in the US northeast.

Before she and her family emigrated to Canada, Rohrs was a nurse in Cape Town, South Africa, who was part of Dr. Christiaan Barnard’s heart transplant team.

International Women’s Day will be marked on Wednesday, March 8 around the world to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

Unsung heroes honored

The achievements of three local women, Alice Johnson, Bev Dornan, and Shirley Stewart, were honored at the Saturday luncheon as unsung heroes of the community.

Johnson, a long-time resident and volunteer in the Langley community, started the Langley Willoughby Women’s Institute 25 years ago.

She was described in the written program for the Saturday event as a “tireless volunteer” who has served on committees for the Langley Centennial Museum, Douglas Day Committee, Langley Heritage Society, Pitch-In B.C. and the Willoughby Community Hall Society, where she has been secretary for 25 years, as well as a member of the building committee during renovations.

Johnson was chairperson for the restoration of the original Willoughby Elementary School, which was slated for demolition, but has been preserved as a heritage building and daycare.

Dornan, who grew up in Aldergrove, was lauded for her efforts on behalf of that community, including arranging charity events on behalf of Otter Co-op where she has spent most of her career.

Dornan has served on various boards and committees including the Aldergrove Festival Days Society, the Langley Chamber of Commerce, Langley Hospital Foundation and she chaired the organizing committee for the Relay for Life.

“She is in fact known as a person who is always willing to fill in when needed,” the program observed.

“Bev Dornan has shown a life-long dedication to others and to her community.”

Stewart was cited for her involvement with “many major and minor events” in the Langleys over the last 20 years, including the Chamber of Commerce, Hospital Foundation, Langley Lodge Care Foundation, Gateway of Hope, Langley Walk 50th Anniversary, Special Olympics and the B.C. Senior Games.

Stewart was described as someone who “is happy to remain behind the scenes backstage and let others accept the flowers and accolades, but when she is put in the spotlight she is quick to thank others and ensure they share the success.”

The program noted Stewart is often sought out by individuals and organizations to lend her expertise to community or fundraising evens.

Unsung heroes

Three unsung heroes were recognized Saturday at the 6th annual celebration of International Women’s Day presented by the Rotary Club of Langley Central. L to R: Shirley Stewart, Alice Johnson and Bev Dornan. Dan Ferguson/Langley Times