Langley’s two Seniors of the Year for 2013 have plenty in common.
Their last name for instance.
And their address.
Not to mention the long and varied list of community volunteer activities that Mario and Marilyn Sergi have happily taken on over the nearly 15 years they’ve called Langley home.
The Murrayville couple, who have been married for 51 years, are the embodiment of community involvement, according to Doris Riedweg.
That’s why the Langley author and historian decided to nominate them for the award, presented annually at the Langley Senior Resources Centre.
Although they were put forward as a pair, it was up to a committee to select one or both of the them, explained Riedweg.
But there was no question in her mind that she would submit their names together.
“It wouldn’t make sense to nominate one without the other,” she said.
“I was so pleased they both won,” added Riedweg, who met Marilyn about 12 years ago, through the Langley Writers Guild. She soon got to know Mario as well, when Marilyn served a term as guild president.
Earlier this year, Riedweg was approached for nominations by selection committee member Eleanor Ryan.
“I immediately thought of the Sergis,” said Riedweg. “There is no one more deserving.
“They give very unselfishly.”
Among the numerous volunteer roles the couple has taken on over the years, Mario and Marilyn have spent more than 10 years with the Langley Emergency Program. During that time they’ve helped victims of the Kamloops wildfires of 2003 and, closer to home, the recent Elm Building fire at Rainbow Lodge.
They’re also well known for pitching in under less dramatic circumstances.
From driving their neighbours to appointments, to helping them with light housework and meal preparation, the couple is happy to lend a hand whenever and wherever they’re able.
As an expert saw sharpener and ‘general of many trades,’ “Mario is the ‘go to’ guy in the (mobile home) park for those who need a repairman,” according to Riedweg.
They also help out toward the end of each year at the Langley Christmas Bureau.
Both are certified amateur radio operators — Mario’s call sign is VA7W0P, while Marilyn’s is VE70SS.
In that capacity, Mario, 79, served for six years with the Provincial Emergency Program, Emergency Radio Operations in Surrey.
Two years ago, the couple used those skills to help students at Belmont Elementary contact the International Space Station and chat with one of the astronauts on board.
For her part, Marilyn, 74, now a member of Ramshead Writers Group, volunteered for 10 years at the Aldergrove Community Police Office (CPO) as well as working for 11 years with Canadian Blood Services. She has also been a Sunshine Lady and Secret Pal, “bringing her infectious smile and cheery words to many shut-ins and the elderly,” wrote Riedweg.
This is not the first time the Sergis’ abundant community spirit has been formally acknowledged.
“We were nominated for the (John and Muriel) Arnason award in 2008 and we won it. We had our 15 minutes of fame — and it lasted for three years, I kid you not,” laughed Marilyn.
Every place the couple went, they seemed to get recognized, she said.
Still, winning the Senior of the Year honours together was unexpected.
“We were (surprised). We didn’t know what to say when Doris called,” said Marilyn.
The Sergis moved to Langley from Pigeon Lake, Alta. in July, 1998 to help out an uncle who had no children.
Shortly after that, they began donating their time and seemingly boundless energy.
In addition to the numerous non-profit agencies in the community, the couple participates in the Township of Langley’s Adopt a Street program — under the name ‘Sergico’ — ensuring that their section of Allard Crescent near Derby Reach remains tidy.
“We go out every week and do some pick-up. We try to pick a day when it’s not a weekend, so there’s not so much traffic,” said Marilyn.
“We’ve found everything — including a kitchen sink,” she laughed.
Still, she said, it’s great fun. They enjoy watching the cyclists and dog walkers and groups of people out for a casual stroll along the river.
“It’s lovely. We get to to enjoy nature at its best.”
For the Sergis, volunteering is as much about what they get back as what they can offer.
“I just love people. And our community needs — and has — wonderful volunteers. I love mixing with them,” said Marilyn.
“You have to pay back, and we enjoy doing this,” added Mario, a retired fire and rescue chief at an Edmonton chemical company, who was born in Italy.
“You’ll never find any other country in the world like this. I’m proud to be here and to help out. It makes me feel good,” he said.
“You’ve got to step out and enjoy the place (you live) and help people.”
The Sergis will be formally honoured during a luncheon at the Langley Senior Resources Centre tomorrow (Wednesday, June 5).