An aspiring medical student and a woman running point on a long list of committees have been named Red Deer’s newest Young Citizen and Citizen of the Year.
Members of Red Deer’s four Rotary Clubs and their partners in the project named Hunting Hills student Madiha Mueen and homemaker Lyn Radford as the winners during a posh gala at the Capri Centre on Wednesday evening.
Citizen of the Year, Radford said her interest in volunteering stretches back many years but really kicked into gear when she became involved with the Red Deer Gymnastics Club.
Forced to work out of rented warehouse spaces, young gymnasts commonly had to start their runs out in the parking lot, even in the dead of winter, because there was never enough room inside.
Radford said she still recalls meeting in 2000 with Lowell Hodgson, who was then Red Deer’s community services director, and announcing the club wanted to build on the bare land that then lay between the Notre Dame and Hunting Hills high schools.
It seemed like an audacious statement at the time.
“You could see he was thinking, ‘Where in the heck did this lunatic come from,’” said Radford.
But then, the city had embarked on an extensive recreation project, the 250,000-square-foot Collicutt Centre, where the gymnastics club has a permanent home.
Leading that project was a turning point for Radford, now a grandmother, who had raised four children as a stay-at-home mom.
“In the fall of 2000, to watch that gymnastics centre open up . . . even now, I walk by the gymnastics facility, and really, that can bring tears to my eyes.”
Volunteering was possible because she and her husband, Reg, were able to raise their family on just one income, said Radford.
She currently leads or takes part in a wide range of organizations, including Red Deer’s Olympic Torch Committee, the Red Deer Curling Club’s building committee, the Red Deer College Board of Governors, Alberta Sport Development Centre, Westerner Park, Red Deer and District Community Foundation and various provincial sport committees.
“To have this honour, it really, really humbles me. I sit back and think, oh my God, did I really do enough to earn this reward,” she said.
At 18 and just wrapping up her last year in high school, Young Citizen Madiha Mueen says she is trying to decide where to place her next step. She has been accepted in biology programs at Red Deer College and four universities, including Calgary, Alberta, McGill and Guelph. She hopes her studies will put her on the path to a career in medicine, specializing in pediatrics.
Despite the work put into her tremendous academic achievements, Mueen, has found plenty of time for volunteer work, which first captured her interest when she was in Grade 8.
She takes part in the leadership program at Hunting Hills, which includes work on various events. Among them, Mueen has helped with the Pennies for Paws fundraising program on behalf of the SPCA and with organizing Random Acts of Kindness Day.
She is one of nine students who take part in Youth Voice, whose members consulted with the City of Red Deer to help develop the new Community Standards bylaw, and is she also a regular volunteer at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre.
“I just want to give back to my community. When I moved to Red Deer, in 2001, I was welcomed by the community, the people at my school, my teachers . . . everyone was very welcoming.
“(Volunteering) has made me grow. I’ve changed, because I’ve encountered many different situations, many different people, and I’ve learned a lot from those people.”
Mueen and her family moved to Red Deer from Mississauga, Ont., and had previously lived in various parts of the United States. The family came to Red Deer so her father, a microbiologist, could take a research position at Lacombe.