Mac Langford, at home on Lopez Island.
Like many individuals on Lopez, Mac Langford stepped into the boots of volunteerism by accident.
“I went to one of the meetings…a community planning meeting,” Langford recalls. “I showed some interest and asked some questions, and Jeff Nichols called me up. We had talked about what the building’s functions should be, how it should serve the community in that meeting.”
This was the start of nine years of service for Langford, whose generous gift of volunteerism has contributed to the community in general, and to the Lopez Center for Community and the Arts, in particular.
“I think he phoned me in late fall of 1997, and he asked me to participate in a meeting. I was blissfully unaware of most of the particulars,” Mac Langford said. “I thought he was out of his mind to invite me. The center had so many creative, motivated people, though, that I really wanted to be part of that. Lynn Waller and Nancy Greene, among many others, were instrumental in the building of the Center.”
Tytti and Mac Langford first visited Lopez Island in 1972 and bought property there. They returned every summer since then and decided to move to the island in 1993. In 1990 they built their home with the help of their son and moved in.
Then in 1997 he and his wife began to get more involved in community planning.
“Julie and Rip Van Camp have been involved and are still involved,” Langford said. “I had such great respect for those people, and when I joined, the (center) plans had been finalized and the finances had been raised, and I came in on the tail end of all that. I believe we broke ground in 1998 and it was finished in October of 1999. When I got on board in January of 1998, we were still trying to find a contractor or a contracting company to provide the construction.”
Langford has a history of helping out on boards. He participated on a community choir board many years ago, and he was an educator for 31 years. He’s an old hand at knowing how to be productive within large organizations.
“I’ve really enjoyed knowing and working with all the people on the board; you really do become bigger than the just your individual contribution. It’s a brain trust kind of thing that happens when a group of smart people get together. They become even smarter.”
Langford has held every office on the board, from vice co-chairman to secretary, even serving as treasurer for a year.
“In 2003 I was the chairman,” he laughs. “I’ve also been on every search committee.”
As far as fundraising, Langford led the concluding effort to sell chairs with the placques on the backs of them with Len Kanzer before he passed away. “He had great ideas and it was a lot of fun to work with him,” Langford recalls.
Langford also headed up the final push to sell the tiles. Jean Behnke contributed all the materials for the tiles, and then she finished laying them as well. “So many people contributed so much; it truly is a community center,” Langford commented.
Langford served on the board from 1997 to 2003, took a hiatus of three years, and then came back in 2006. Langford will be ending his service with the board in January of 2010.
When asked about the accomplishments he is proudest of during his participation, he replies, “Seeing how the center has become the heart and soul of the community. One of the first things I can remember after 9/11 is that right away, we were going to have a community gathering, and the center was the place where that happened. We have had memorials, celebrations, musical events, just so many community events. I cannot conceive of the community without it.”
What does he hope for the board in the coming years? “I really hope that the center continues to serve the community,” Langford said. “Officially, anyone who lives on or owns property on Lopez, is a member of the association. I hope the Board continues to maintain the Center to serve the needs and hopes of the community.” He pauses. “This island runs on volunteerism and things wouldn’t be the way it is without it.”