Larry Shareski kicks back in his former Semiahmoo Foundation office March 8. He retired last year after 40 years with the society. (Tracy Holmes photo)

Larry Shareski kicks back in his former Semiahmoo Foundation office March 8. He retired last year after 40 years with the society. (Tracy Holmes photo)

Semiahmoo House ‘ambassador’ celebrated

Larry Shareski retired from South Surrey-based society after 40-plus years

It’s fair to say Larry Shareski has made quite an impression on the Semiahmoo Peninsula.

And the declaration shouldn’t come as a surprise – after all, his involvement in the community dates back more than 40 years.

“It’s kind of neat to get involved, get to know the people in your community,” Shareski said Friday (March 5). “I really enjoy that.”

The outgoing senior was celebrated March 3, during a virtual retirement party hosted by Semiahmoo House Society (SHS). Nearly 60 people ‘attended,’ showering Shareski with thanks and well wishes for all he’s done as the society’s ambassador.

“You were the connector,” Doug Tennant, chief executive officer of UNITI (a partnership of SHS, The Semiahmoo Foundation and Peninsula Estates Housing Society) told the 68-year-old. “You connected us with important people in the community that you know.

“You have made the world a more inclusive and friendly place.”

Tennant, who has known Shareski since 2001, said “a lot of big decisions were made during his time.”

Shareski, who was born in Saskatchewan, was on hand when, in 1983, Semiahmoo House Society purchased the old Surrey fire hall on 24 Avenue, pitched in when it had to be torn down in the early 2000s and was a key member of the team that built the society’s current ‘Treehouse’ building.

Fast-forward to 2016, and he had opportunity to drive the bobcat on the site of the Chorus development – a 71-unit building at 2358 153 St. that opened in November of that year with a combination of independent-living units for people with developmental disabilities and units of affordable housing.

READ MORE: ‘Inclusive, affordable’ South Surrey project aims to meet ‘desperate’ housing need

Many retirement-party guests described Shareski as “always welcoming” to visitors at Semiahmoo House, someone who brought out the best in everyone that came to the building. He shared that positive presence at numerous events over the years, including galas, fundraisers and golf tournaments.

Retired MP Gordie Hogg lauded Shareski’s “enormous gift of making everybody feel better.”

“You’ve made a big difference to so many lives,” Hogg said.

Jillian Glennie, associate director of development for The Semiahmoo Foundation, couldn’t put a figure on the number of relationships Shareski developed at SHS and in the community over the years. Put simply, he is “the most talked about person when I mention I am a part of Semiahmoo House Society,” she said.

In addition to contributing at Semiahmoo House, Shareski volunteered for nine years at Centennial Arena, with the Surrey Eagles, and was guest conductor at Southridge School for 13 years. His very presence at the school, with his friendly demeanour and getting to know the students, allowed Southridge to become more inclusive, Tennant said.

Shareski – also active at Peace Portal Alliance Church – contributed on the SHS board, as well, and worked with The Semiahmoo Foundation. He hung up his hat last year, he said, because “it’s time to move on a bit.”

(Celebrating his retirement was delayed in the hopes of being able to hold an in-person event, but with no end to the restriction on large gatherings in sight, a virtual event was organized.)

Shareski said he’s looking forward to going to hockey games and getting back involved with music. He described his years with the society and foundation as “so fantastic.”

“I’ve been everywhere, I’m just, like, famous,” he said.
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