Gloria Beck and Adam Guthrie were recognized for their community efforts on Friday night.
Beck was named the 2017 Citizen of the Year, while Guthrie was named 2017 Young Citizen of the Year during the annual gala, presented by the Rotary Club of Red Deer.
The event welcomed former Minister of Defence Peter MacKay, who was pleased to come to Red Deer to discuss the importance of volunteerism and also to celebrate the accomplishments of Beck, owner of Parkland Nurseries and Garden Centre and Guthrie, a Grade 12 student at Notre Dame High School.
“I think it is extremely important,” said MacKay. “I think Canadians by nature tend to be humble but these are important occasions to celebrate the best of our communities.”
On this night the Rotary Club chose to celebrate Guthrie as one of the best young persons in the Red Deer community.
“It is an incredible honour to be named Young Citizen of the Year,” he said. “There are so many qualified people who give so much back to the community so the fact that I got selected is pretty astonishing to me. I like to give back to my community as much as I can. For me, it is not about what I get from it – it is about what I can give back to the community.”
Guthrie is a competitive triathlete who has given back his knowledge to others.
“For me the most rewarding part of my athletics has been teaching the Special Olympics training group,” Guthrie said. “For me to be able to mentor athletes with special needs has been an incredibly rewarding experience. I can see the difference I am making every day. I am a life guard at Collicutt Centre and a few weeks ago I had one of my swimmers come up to me. He doesn’t have the capability to speak very well, but he recognized me and his face lit right up even though I haven’t seen him for months. To be able to have that connection feels very good to me.”
Beck was shocked that she won the award after being involved with Rotary for many years.
“When I was told, I had to sit down and reflect,” she explained. “I have been very involved with charities over the years. It is something I do and something my business does. I have been very involved with Rotary, as well as international and national association work as well.”
Beck has been involved with multiple charities for over 30 years.
“You start getting involved and you feel good for it,” she said. “My staff are involved and they like that too. Over the years it adds up and when you reflect, you realize it has been a lot.”
She added the award, “Is overwhelming. It is a real honour and I am totally grateful. It is something I will enjoy and it is a lot to live up to.”
In addition, MacKay was eager to to discuss the importance of community building and leadership.
“Everybody benefits when people look beyond their own backyards and think how do I improve things? And how do I bring something positive to the world around me?” MacKay said. “Nights like tonight are important. We don’t often have time in our busy lives to celebrate every occasion, but bringing people together here in Red Deer is a tremendous way to build up civic engagement and reward that positive ingredient in our communities.”
MacKay commented on the uniqueness of Red Deer and how the community building being showed off at the gala will be on the national stage two years from now.
“I know you are hosting the 2019 Winter Games. That is a great opportunity to bring the whole country here,” he said. “This is a great community, you have demonstrated over time what you have here. It is quite admirable and unique. You are not Calgary, you are not Edmonton – you are a community that is very unique.”
Meanwhile, Beck offered some advice to young people looking to make a difference in their communities.
“They need to get involved,” she said. “You get so much back. Your life is so much richer by being involved and helping others. Find a good mentor and share your dreams with that person. They will support you and help you get there.”