They’re remarkable, outstanding, genuine, friendly, welcoming, and incredibly sincere.
These are all terms that Downtown Langley Business Association executive director Teri James hears used by visitors and merchants alike to describe Kerry and Lisa Herperger.
They’re a Langley couple that has made volunteering part of their weekly routine for more than a dozen years now – and Langley is richer for their efforts, James said.
“I really love it… I love people,” Kerry said, reflecting back on her years of service.
“For 12 years in a row now, Kerry and Lisa – volunteers extraordinaire – have been serving the Downtown Langley Business Association in a volunteer capacity every single year without fail, from the beginning of April until the end of September,” James explained.
It started when a friend told them of a new ambassador program kicking off in downtown Langley City. It was suggested as a good way for the pair to meet new people, boast their confidence, and have some fun.
Even though the DLBA’s ambassador program reach the end of its life expectancy four years ago, Lisa and Kerry were loving it too much to give up.
They asked James if they could continue on as downtown volunteers, and she was anxious to oblige.
Like most of the other former ambassadors, Kerry and Lisa help out with some of the larger special events held downtown. But the Herpergers’ contributions go way beyond that, James said.
They volunteer every Wednesday, from at least 10 a.m. to noon – often longer, James noted. They distribute posters and information to merchants, taking pictures of problem spots (ie. graffiti, unsightly premises, road and sidewalk issues, and other forms of vandalism) around the core and reporting back to James, and stopping and chatting to merchants and visitors alike.
“I just love doing it. I love walking and meeting the people,” said Lisa, who explained that they cover the full DLBA territory, from the Save-On-Foods to the Langley Bypass, and from Douglas Crescent north to the Duncan Way.
Lisa likes that she never knows what the next week will bring, and is thrilled by the added responsibilities this ‘job’ has gives her.
They were quite shy when they started. James said she’s been impressed with their personal growth through the years, and said “it’s very liberating for me to have volunteers like this. They do it all.”
She describes their smiles and laughter as contagious and their work ethic as beyond reproach.
“They’re so dedicated, and never late,” James said, noting the couple take a bus from Murrayville every week, usually rain or shine.
“It has to be absolutely pouring for them not to show up,” James said with a chuckle, recounting a recent incident. She called to say it was raining and to give them an option to pass on that day’s duties. Kerry quickly replied: “We’re not made of sugar. We don’t melt.”
The dedication and commitment has helped the Herpergers developed strong bonds with downtown merchants, so much so that during the off season James fields frequent questions from shop owners wondering when the couple is coming back.
“They just don’t do volunteer things for the organization, like deliveries and drop offs, they make the effort to stop and say hi, and to communicate. They’ve created their own relationships with the businesses. That’s what makes them remarkable,” James said, describing them as genuine and caring.
“They’re doing this for the sole purpose of being volunteers, for the love of volunteerism. There’s no hidden or ulterior motive, they’re out here because they love doing it – and it shows,” James said. “Everyone picks up on it.”
In addition to volunteering for the DLBA, they also volunteer with the annual Terry Fox Run.
Kerry, 59, works as a dishwasher at the Ricky’s in Murrayville, a position he’s had for 18 years. He works four days a week there.
“Every day, but Wednesdays,” he explained. “That’s when we’re here. We’re here, no matter what.”
“I’m just so happy doing this,” Kerry said, of his downtown duties. In fact, every Tuesday at work he feels himself getting excited in anticipation of his next day’s volunteer duties.
“When I’m coming here to volunteer, my face just lights up. I’m just so happy to do this job… I have made some good friends… and people on the street respect us.”
Likewise, 50-year-old Lisa has been at her job for 22 years – the longest standing employee at the A&W Restaurant on 200th Street.
She’s a “prep lady” responsible for making onion rings every Monday and Friday.
Kerry insists the only way they’d ever give up their volunteer duties downtown is if they couldn’t walk anymore.
The couple, who have been together for 29 years, is recognized each year at the City of Langley volunteer banquet, and in 2016 was singled out by Mayor Ted Schaffer for their special contributions. They were each presented with a City of Langley golf shirt, which they’ve since added to their unofficial DLBA uniform.
“I’ve never seen two volunteers in any organization that have been more appreciated, loved, and recognized than Kerry and Lisa,” James said, calling them “epic” volunteers – then taking a moment to explain its meaning to the pair.
“It means you’re amazing,” she said to the couple, moved to tears as she watched their faces light up.
“They have enough enthusiasm for 100 volunteers,” she added. “They have a way of touching people… Kerry and Lisa broke the mould… They’re one of the reasons people love it down here, that’s for sure.”