A successful business owner along with a local athlete, who both share a passion for volunteering, were crowned Citizen of the Year and Young Citizen of the Year on Friday night.
Triathlete and Young Citizen of the Year Adam Guthrie, said teaching Special Olympic swimmers has been his most rewarding volunteer activity.
Working as a lifeguard recently at Collicutt Centre, Guthrie had a chance meeting with one of the athletes and the swimmer’s reaction put a smile on both their faces.
“He doesn’t have the mental capability to speak very well, but he recognized me. His face lit right up even though I hadn’t seen him for months. To be able to have that kind of connection in the community it feels very good to me,” Guthrie, of Red Deer, said before the annual awards gala organized by the Rotary Clubs of Red Deer held at Sheraton Red Deer.
The Grade 12 Notre Dame High School student has also regularly been spending his Sundays teaching children about triathlons as a member of Woody’s Triathlon training group.
Citizen of the Year Gloria Beck, owner and manager of Parkland Nurseries and Garden Centre, said volunteering makes life richer and urged others to look for ways to get involved and help others.
“It’s the best thing I ever did. I’ve always believed if there is a door opening, go through it because that door might not open again. I think that’s why I got so busy for a few years when I was on a lot of boards at the same time,” said Beck who has been involved with Rotary, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Olds College and Red Deer &District Chamber of Commerce.
“I jumped in with both feet and proud and happy I did.”
Beck said many times she was the first female president or board member.
“I didn’t realize at the time I was breaking through new barriers. I reflect now and I see I did quite a few times,” said Beck, of Pine Lake.
She said through her business she has also focused on giving back to the community, but receiving her award was a total surprise.
“It’s overwhelming. It’s a real honour and I’m totally grateful. I think of the people who have gone before me and I know most of them. I don’t think it’s really hit me.”
Citizen of the Year awards recognize leadership and commitment to the community and guest speaker Peter MacKay, former foreign affairs, national defence and justice minister, said it’s important to shine a light on those who go above and beyond for their community.
“I think by nature Canadians tend to be humble and sometimes a little bit self-effacing, but these are important occasions to celebrate the best of our community,” MacKay said.
“When I see young men and women like Adam here who are so committed to improving not only their community but the broader world, I think that speaks well of this generation. Just as previous generations, I know they’re going to make their mark and Canada is better for that type of real citizen engagement.”
When asked to comment on today’s crumbling international relations, MacKay said efforts to find common ground are key and Canada can play an enormous role.
“I’m hoping that this is a period in time and that you will see calmer heads recede from some of the more extreme positions and get back to alliances and partnerships that work. It’s true in North America as it is around the world.”
He said when it comes to renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement modernization may be needed in some areas, but NAFTA has been the most successful trading relation in global history for all three countries.
“I think a lot of the rhetoric, tweets, inflammatory language between countries that have enjoyed such historic positive goodwill relations are unhelpful. I think that our country has to go into these negotiations strong with facts, not false news or made up scenarios. We have to go in with our eyes wide open and bargain as we did in the original agreement, with Canada’s best interest at heart. But to make America and North America great again, you have to make NAFTA great again.”