Community

Tireless volunteers honoured as Langley’s Seniors of Year

Don Kelly and Peggy Schafer have been named Langley’s Seniors of the Year for 2014. - Dan FERGUSON/Langley Times
Don Kelly and Peggy Schafer have been named Langley’s Seniors of the Year for 2014.
— image credit: Dan FERGUSON/Langley Times

Langley’s Seniors of the Year for 2014 are shining examples of what it means to commit to a cause, and then stick with it for the long-term.

Peggy Schafer and Don Kelly have each been serving the community in their respective volunteer roles for well over a decade, and neither shows signs of slowing anytime soon.

Schafer, 90, has been a volunteer with Langley Meals on Wheels for 35 years and has been active in her church community at Christian Life Assembly for the past 40 years.

“I was always a stay-at-home mom,” said Schafer, who was “honoured, of course,” by the nomination. “I started volunteering because I liked to help people. I just like doing it.”

Schafer delivers Meals on Wheels once per week.

“You’re giving them a service that, in some cases, allows them to stay in their home,” she said.

“A couple of times I’ve been able to help people with medical problems,” she added.

During one visit to a client’s home, Schafer discovered the man was having a stroke. She called for help and waited with him until it arrived.

“I just can’t go and sit. I like to get involved,” she said.

Sharon Reeder, who volunteers with Schafer at Meals on Wheels, nominated her colleague for the honour and praised the senior for her positive outlook.

“She has such an amazing and upbeat attitude and she is always smiling.

“I really look forward to seeing her every Wednesday,” wrote Reeder.

In a letter supporting the nomination, Bill Ashbee, Care Ministries Pastor at CLA, described Schafer as “the Energizer Bunny of Christian Life Assembly.”

Among the volunteer roles she has filled at the church over the past four decades are teaching Sunday school, caring for shut-ins, visiting people in hospital, leading weekly prayer meetings, ushering, fundraising and hosting a women’s group in her home.

“Peggy is the quintessence of what it means to be a Christian: always ready to serve and brighten anyone’s day,” wrote Ashbee.

Her children, Ruth Johnson, Gary Schafer and Ken Schafer, also weighed in, with a long list of the volunteer work carried out by their mother since the family moved to Langley in 1974.

In addition to Meals on Wheels and the roles she has fulfilled at CLA over the years, Schafer has served as a leader in Pioneer Girls, score keeper for the bowling and baseball teams, camp counsellor, and “awesome craft-maker.”

“Though we look to this Godly woman and the impact on our lives and others’ in Langley, her influence reaches far beyond Langley.

“She truly loves people, sees the best in them and encourages them in practical and inspirational ways,” her children wrote.

For Don Kelly’s part, the 71-year-old Senior of the Year, who celebrates a birthday this month, was stunned to learn he’d been nominated for the honour.

“I felt, no way would I ever win. I was quite speechless — I know it’s cliché,” he said.

Kelly was nominated by Leigh Castron, co-coordinator of the Langley Christmas Bureau, where he has volunteered for the past 14 years.

“Don (works) every day for the three months of the CB season, setting up the office and toy depot, picking up toys, arranging drivers and obtaining material to build the Christmas Bureau float for the parade,” wrote Castron in her nomination letter.

“Don and his pickup are never far away and he is keen to help out in the community,” Castron added. “I’ve never heard him say no.”

“It’s so gratifying to see the community coming together to support a cause,” said Kelly of his involvement with the Christmas Bureau.

He recalled a particular trip to Mountain Secondary to pick up donations from a group of high school students.

The load of toys and other donated gifts filled his entire truck bed and most of the pickup’s cab.

“I was afraid I would get a ticket (on the return drive) because I could only see one mirror,” he said.

“It was so gratifying, so nice to see the generosity of people.”

Kelly has also spent four years as organizer and committee member for Langley Crime Watch, as well as volunteering as an usher with the Langley Chiefs hockey team and, later, for the Rivermen.

“It gives me something to do. And when you look at all these events, to attend costs money. When you volunteer, you get in for free,” he said with a laugh.

“I’ve got to know the seniors who attend the games. It’s like ‘old-home week.’

“It becomes a real outing — to me, it isn’t work.”

Kelly also helped out at the recent Girls Fly Too event at the Langley airport, assisting with registration and ensuring the girls got to the appropriate aircraft.

“That was exciting,” he said of the event, which set a world record back in March.

Kelly said he was blown away by the generosity of the people who organized the event and of those who donated flying time and fuel to get as many girls up in the air as possible over the two days of the event.

“It was a happy time and I was proud to be part of it.”

The 2014 Seniors of the Year were introduced to the community at the opening ceremonies of Seniors Week at the Langley Seniors Centre on Monday morning.

They will be honoured at the Seniors of the Year luncheon at the Langley Seniors Centre, 20605 51B Ave. on Wednesday, June 4, at 11:30 a.m.

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