November 2020 Issue
By Cynthia Robinson Photography by Mike Force Photography
Best friends Tammy Langdale and Cindy Schoch met as community service volunteers. Their shared dedication in giving back to veterans and their families is what continues to keep this heart-filled friendship strong five years later.
“We met working as volunteers with the American Legion Auxiliary in Darien,” said Tammy, whose grandmother was the president of the chapter years ago. “We didn’t know each other before that, and we just hit it off. Volunteering with the Auxiliary is a great way to meet friends.”
While Tammy is a native of Darien, who grew up on Jekyll Island, Cindy is a native of Connecticut, who didn’t move to Darien until six years ago after she and her partner, Wally Schieferdecker, sold the marina they owned and managed in the Constitution State. “We spent about 10 years looking for a place to move, including Glynn and Liberty counties, but we kept coming back to Darien. We fell in love with the waterfront.”
Cindy joined the Post 137 Auxiliary a year later and her friendship with Tammy was born. “Wally was in the Navy years ago and joined the American Legion, so I got involved in the Auxiliary.” Tammy says her partner, Frank Lunsford, is the treasurer of the local chapter of the Sons of the American Legion. “My grandfather and brother were also both in the Army,” she added.
According to the American Legion Auxiliary website, the entire organization was founded in 1919 and remains one of the largest veteran support groups in America. The organization is open to the male and female spouses, grandmothers, mothers, sisters and direct and adopted female descendants of members of American Legion members.
Volunteers raise money for veterans’ programs and annual scholarships, as well as advocate to better the lives of veterans and their families. The Auxiliary that supports Darien’s Post 137 helps sponsor the annual American Legion Girls State program. Held in conjunction with Boys State, the summer leadership program for high school juniors focuses on the mechanics of American government and policies.
Almost immediately after meeting each other, Tammy and Cindy discovered they had many things in common, particularly their style of volunteering. “We both like to step up to the plate and get things done,” Cindy said, laughing. “We’re both results oriented people. If we believe in an idea, we do everything we can to make it work.” Tammy agreed. “We grab it and go! If the ball gets dropped, we are there to pick it up. Luckily, we’ve had no major disasters,” Tammy added with a laugh, “it takes a group effort.”
“We are very proud of our Auxiliary officers and members. If not for them, we couldn’t accomplish all the great things we do,” Tammy said. Both site the Georgia Love Project as their favorite among all events and programs they put on and/or sponsor. “Last year we put together 90 care packages for soldiers who are deployed to Afghanistan.” The packages are shipped in flat rate boxes and contain everything from personal hygiene products, to pads of paper to homemade cookies. “We had a ladies’ crochet group make hats because it gets so cold in the winter where they are,” Cindy added. “We also had second and third graders write thank you notes to them. Some were real tear jerkers.”
“The cookies were a big hit, too. We had volunteers bake cookies and included a dozen in each box,” Tammy smiled. “We’re looking forward to that project again this December.”
The pandemic has not deterred the organization from supporting and honoring veterans and their families. Both women hope to be able to distribute poppies on Veteran’s Day and are currently in talks with management at Sam’s Club in Brunswick to hold the distribution there.
Other temporarily halted events have resumed with precautions in place. The organization holds a monthly fundraising dinner where people can either eat in, take out, or get delivery in McIntosh County. It’s here where the dedicated duo also share a love of cooking and experimenting with new recipes. The funds raised through events like these go to many causes, including Coastal Georgia Honor Flight, the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta, and now the Golden Isles Veterans Village Initiative, where tiny homes will soon be built for homeless veterans. “We are also working on furnishings to decorate the tiny homes, like microwaves, curtains and sheets,” Cindy said. They jump in to help with whatever needs arise. “Like when a local veteran needed a handicap ramp for his home and when veterans need appliances,” Tammy said.
Even when they are not at the Legion, the two have parallel day jobs in they both manage rental properties. And in their spare time, they also share a mutual love of the water, especially boating.
Both ladies own two boats with their significant others and enjoy taking them out as often as possible. “Frank and I recently went down to St. Augustine, but that was a long ride. We usually like to stay closer to home,” Tammy said.
Cindy related she and Wally basically do the same. “We like sailing Doughboy Sound and right off the coast. It’s funny, when we ran our resort marina, we were always working on other people’s boats. We had to sell it and move to get time to spend time on our boats!”
Growing up on the Water: Tammy: “Growing up on the coast, I guess boating is just in my blood, I first became involved with boating at age 16. Cindy: “My first job was at a marina. I grew up in a town located on the Connecticut River. I spent my summers swimming and winters ice skating!” Both: Tammy now lives adjacent to the Sapelo River, while Cindy lives near the Darien River.
Favorite Things to Cook: Tammy: “Cooking on the grill, “especially steak.” Cindy: “I enjoy baking things from scratch. My favorites are my family Christmas cookies—an oatmeal base with dates, raisins and walnuts.”
What They Look For in Friendship: Both women cite honesty and shared interests as traits they look for in a friend. Tammy added “free spiritedness” is also important, and they “must love the beach!”
Nurturing Friendships: Cindy: “I believe keeping friendships strong is achieved by giving more than you receive and good communication.” Tammy agreed: “It’s also important to be open and honest with a soft shoulder and an open ear.”