Langley’s Seniors of the Year met for the first time during a May 30 newspaper interview.
But when it comes to volunteerism in the community that they call home, Albert Langla and Sandra Reams are kindred spirits.
On Thursday (June 1), the Langley Senior Resources Society (LSRS) will honour Langla and Reams in a ceremony at the Langley Seniors Recreation & Resource Centre, 20605 51B Ave.
The 10:30 a.m. presentation will pay tribute to the two long-time senior residents, volunteers, and community supporters within Langley.
Both Langla, 86, and Reams, 77, have lived in Langley for 20 years and over those two decades they’ve filled their days with countless hours of volunteer work.
In his time working for the City of North Vancouver, Langla quickly learned how to be versatile, a skill he has applied in his golden years.
Langla modestly says he does “gardening” at the Langley seniors centre but he does much more than that — he also volunteers with the centre’s garage sale, Shred-for-Seniors fundraiser, and is one of the go-to helpers with cleaning up after special events.
“And sometimes I pick up a broom and sweep the parking lot and keep that clean,” he said. “Oh, and I vacuum the carpet in the front once in a while, if it needs doing. I’ll help people with their walkers if they need help to get them out of their cars.”
Langla spends four days a week at the centre, helping out one, sometimes two hours each visit.
He admits he’s “not a gardener” but is quick to point out “it’s therapy for me.”
“I find it very difficult to sit at home and look at four walls,” Langla said. “I like to be out among people; I enjoy people; I like helping people. I live in a complex and I’m on the (strata) council, there, and I help a lot of people in there, too.”
Gogos and LEPS
Reams says she has “a very lovely arrangement” with Michaud Heritage House. She’s been the longtime gardener/caretaker of the 129-year-old heritage house, that is owned by the City of Langley and managed and maintained by the Langley Heritage Society.
“It’s a job in a sense that I’m compensated by low rent, but I volunteer in a sense that I kind of take it on, making it like a home and available to the public with a lovely garden. I kind of step up and do more than what the minimum requirement will be.”
Reams enjoys not only her time at Michaud Heritage House, but she’s also a member of the Langley Gogos, who support millions of grandmothers in Africa who are caring for a generation of orphans from AIDS. Many of these grandmothers are also suffering from HIV themselves, and are mourning the loss of their own adult children.
“Fun name but serious intent,” Reams explained. “Gogos is a term of respect in the Zulu. It’s under the Stephen Lewis Foundation so it’s all very legit and the funds go directly to projects that support the grandmothers.”
The local chapter does fundraising through its Spring Rant, where people get a chance to “rant”, while also enjoying drinks, appetizers, and conversation.
Reams has also been closely involved with the Langley Environmental Partners Society (LEPS).
“I was a canning mentor, helping out with canning workshops, and in the last couple of years (I’ve been part of) the gleaning program,” Reams said.
The program she’s referring to aims to collect and redistribute fruit found on local backyard trees that otherwise goes unused.
“The owners can keep some if they want – oftentimes they don’t because that’s why they phone,” Reams said. “The volunteers get some but at least a third is donated to food banks.”
Reams is proud to say volunteers picked 11,000 pounds of fruit last summer.
As a whole, Reams believes strongly in the benefits of volunteering, in every facet in her life.
“I’ve always been a ‘do-it’ person,” Reams said. “And I heard this saying years ago and I thought that was so true: ‘ You’re only old until your regrets replace your dreams.’ And I thought, ‘that makes sense to me.’”
It should come as no surprise that Langla and Reams were equally surprised to find out that they’ve been named Seniors of the Year.
“I was shocked,” Langla said. “I don’t know why they ever did pick me. It just shocked me. I can’t believe it.”
“You’ve Gotta Have Friends nominated me,” Reams offered. “They did a little write-up and one of the ladies on the committee came over to tell me (I was selected).”
That day, Reams just had a tooth pulled, so the news helped ease the pain she was feeling — at least somewhat.
“So I think this will be a fun year,” Reams said.