Two of Red Deer’s finest citizens were honoured for their volunteer work.
The Red Deer Rotary Clubs hosted the annual 2018 Citizen of the Year gala Wednesday at the Sheraton Hotel, where Terry Loewen was named the Red Deer Citizen of the Year.
“Truthfully I don’t really know what to say. It’s humbling, and I’m grateful I was chosen (for) this,” Loewen said. “The first thing that popped into my mind was, ‘My school teachers won’t believe this one.’ ”
Loewen was a driving force in bringing the Child Advocacy Centre to Red Deer. He’s also been involved in raising money for the Central Middle School Student Benevolence Fund, the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and rebuilding Camp Alexo in Nordegg.
He said he’s fortunate to live in Central Alberta.
“There’s probably no better place in the world than Red Deer to live,” he said. “It’s giving, it’s caring, it has great spirit. Whenever we have something in this city everyone volunteers and sticks together and we always do a great job.”
Loewen said there are many people in Red Deer who do just as much, if not more, than he does for the community.
“To win this is great, but I know there are many people out there more deserving than myself,” he said.
Gian Carlo Estoesta, 19, was named the Young Citizen of the Year at the gala. Estoesta, a Notre Dame High School graduate, has volunteered at the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre’s emergency department for more than two years.
“Volunteering gives you this unique opportunity to be more connected to people in your community and for me that’s very important. It allows you to expand your world-view a bit more and learn different things you never thought you could learn from just a classroom,” Estoesta said.
Estoesta grew up in the Philippines and moved to Red Deer seven years ago. He’s tutored students since early high school and is now transitioning into tutoring adults through the Red Deer Public Library’s adult literacy program. He has also helped with numerous “friendship meals” to feed the homeless at his church.
Being named Young Citizen of the Year was a pleasant surprise, said Estoesta, who just finished his first year at Red Deer College.
Volunteering has shaped him into the person he is today, he added.
“I saw myself grow (more) independent, more resilient and probably (into) someone with more wisdom of the world around me and that’s really helped me transition to adulthood,” Estoesta said.
Guest speaker Beckie Scott, an Olympic gold and silver medalist in cross-country skiing, spoke about the importance of community, and contributing to the community.
“And celebrating those who have gone over and above their respective responsibilities and done their part to contribute to the greater good,” she said.
Scott is originally from Vermilion, where her parents were always big volunteers. That has given her a great respect for volunteers, she said.
Volunteerism “seems to be on the decline … so it’s heartening and encouraging to see these volunteers recognized for their efforts,” said Scott.