Giving their time, giving their all: Bill and Sylvia Long receive Judy Schmidt Lifetime Achievement Award

February 2020 Posted in People
Sylvia and Bill Long, recipients of the Judy Schmidt Lifetime Achievement Award. Photo by Nancy Jennings

Sylvia and Bill Long, recipients of the Judy Schmidt Lifetime Achievement Award. Photo by Nancy Jennings

By Brenna Wiegand

Bill and Sylvia Long will be honored as recipients of the 2019  Judy Schmidt Lifetime Achievement Award at the First Citizen Banquet Feb. 8 at the Mt. Angel Festhalle.

“It’s very humbling to be given this award, especially that was established in Judy Schmidt’s name,” Sylvia Long said. “We’ve never gotten this kind of award, and to be nominated as a couple – all I can say is that it’s very, very humbling.”

Sylvia met Judy Schmidt when Schmidt was director of the hospital’s volunteer services department.

“She and her husband were very nice and really involved with the community,” Sylvia said. “I just always thought Judy was the ultimate head cheerleader for everything in the community and that she always did an excellent job.”

These days the Longs’ Friday morning routine begins with Sylvia dropping off Bill at the hospital where he mans the information desk, providing the first friendly face to those entering its doors. From there Sylvia proceeds to the Oregon Garden where she helps track volunteer hours, works in the Visitor Center and fills in wherever else she’s needed.

Upon her return, Bill and Sylvia enjoy lunch at the hospital before returning home, tired but satisfied at how their work enriches their lives as much as it does those they serve.

“We didn’t know anybody when we moved here, and we figured that the best way to meet people was by getting involved in volunteering and taking part in community events,” Sylvia said. “The people were very accepting and friendly and warm. Silverton Farmers Market had just started up and before long we’d show up and everybody would greet us and ask how we were settling in.

“Volunteering in your community is not only a good way to make friends and socialize,” she said. “It’s also good to get out of the house and I think volunteering helps young people figure out what avenue of work they want to go into – or not go into – after high school or college.

49th Annual Silverton
First Citizen Awards

Saturday, Feb. 8, 6 p.m.
Mt. Angel Festhalle
500 Wilco Hwy. Mt. Angel
Tickets: $40, available at:
silvertonchamber.org
or at the Chamber office
426 S. Water St., Silverton
(No tickets at door)
Gluten-free or vegetarian
options available.
Reservations: 503-873-5615

“Sometimes you think you want to do one thing and then if you go volunteer for it you might want to change your mind,” she said, “so I think it opens up different opportunities for people.”

The couple moved to Silverton from Carson, California, upon her retirement in 2002. Among its other charms, Silverton reminded Bill of being raised in Oregon City and Beaverton when those towns were, well, more like Silverton.

“Our friends thought we were crazy,” Sylvia laughed. “For about five years before I retired, we came up to check places out and Silverton just seemed to be the right place to live.”

Sylvia promptly joined the hospital auxiliary and five years later Bill followed suit. In that time Bill has logged more than 900 volunteer hours, mostly at the information desk. In her 18 years of service, between auxiliary, office work, gift shop, information desk, espresso stand and all kinds of special events, Sylvia has given at least 6,000 hours to the hospital – a statistic that is nearly as surprising to her as the award itself.

“Wow,” she said. “I know I volunteered, and I know enjoyed it, but I didn’t realize it was that much,” Long said.

“Bill and Sylvia are dedicated to providing excellent care and service to our patients, family members and community, and always with a positive attitude and caring spirit,” the hospital reports.

The couple brings the same spirit to the Oregon Garden where they’ve shared its vision from their arrival.

A Garden representative calls the Longs outstanding individuals, among the most dedicated and longest-serving volunteers and a blessing to work with.

“It can be safely said that each of them has contributed well over 5,000 hours of volunteer time during their tenure,” the Garden reports.

Until a couple years ago, Bill was to be found at the entrance, supplying guests with his trademark welcome and gusto for everything Garden.

“I first met them when they joined the Methodist church,” one nominator said. “They are active members in all aspects of the church life. Oftentimes you’ll see them in the kitchen helping clean up and they’re often among the last to leave.”

The couple’s community involvement has also extended to such efforts as Eugene Field Elementary School’s SMART (Start Making a Reader Today) program and helping at the Silver Falls Library.

“It is clear that when Bill and Sylvia give a commitment to something, they give their all,” went the nomination. “Silverton is indeed better for Bill and Sylvia Long making the decision to retire here.”

Sylvia has volunteered her entire adult life.

“I belonged to a junior women’s club in Southern California where we went to convalescent homes and visited people on holidays and take treats to them and that’s where I heard about Meals on Wheels,” she said. “I was in my 20s, home with our young daughter, and I’d take her along.

“People really looked forward to the meals and chatting with my daughter,” Long said. “I wasn’t working at the time and wanted to do something that would help me get out of the house and help others.”

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