After 31 years working in the maintenance department for Recreation Oak Bay, Paul Rains is stepping into the golden years of retirement.
For as long as he can remember he’s been happily lugging tables around the Monterey Recreation Centre, setting up function rooms and performing janitorial tasks to allow seniors and others to enjoy the many programs offered.
He began his time with Oak Bay Parks and Rec working the graveyard shift at the Oak Bay Recreation Centre in 1980.
Rains, 59, remembers his thoughts after his first shift.
“I said to my wife ‘I’m not sticking this out more than a week.’”
What began as pool maintenance and janitorial tasks in the wee hours of the night led to daytime work at Monterey, which grew into a labour of love.
“Once I came here I could socialize a bit more. It was like night and day. I worked eight to four Monday to Friday and it was great,” he said.
“I guess I’m easy-going always, obliging and go out of my way to make people happy. If somebody asked me to do something I would go ahead and do it.”
Rains is considered the ‘go-to’ guy at Monterey by many centre members. “He’s a helping hand – in fact, he’s the only helping hand around here,” said senior Bill Pearce.
“It’s taken all this time for us to be able to understand what he’s saying with that (English) accent, and now that we understand it, he’s leaving.”
Added fellow member Zita Kjaer: “He’s always ready to get something for you. I’ll miss him because he’s a big laugh.”
With his extra time off, Rains plans to fish, garden and use his handyman skills to fix up his house.
“I’m really going to miss socializing with the seniors,” he said. “I’ve been asked to come back and work here part-time and maybe I will. I will probably even join the Monterey Centre as a member.”
As Rains prepares to put his broom and paintbrush away for good, a grand retirement party is planned.
On July 28 from 5 to 7:30 p.m. in the Garry Oak Room at the Monterey centre, he’ll be honoured for his years of dedicated service by friends, family and colleagues.
The party will have a “cushy camping” theme, a tip to his fondness for taking his fifth-wheel RV on every fishing trip.
The buffet for the gathering will be prepared by best friend and fishing buddy, Ron Maximoff, who is the rec centre’s chef. The cost to attend the party is $14. Tickets are available at the rec centre counter.