Citizen of the Year Michael Dawe and Young Citizen of the Year Julia Maksymetz were honoured during a banquet last Friday.
“To look at (previous recipients of Citizen of the Year) and think ‘Gee, I might be in that category as some of these incredibly influential and hardworking, community minded people’ is a very humbling experience,” said Dawe.
“Just something I really didn’t expect.”
Maksymetz, 19, was equally grateful.
“It was a huge reminder to me what incredible opportunities I did have. All the opportunities that were awarded to me, not many people have,” said Maksymetz.
“It motivated me to do more, certainly. I’d had an excellence experience.”
Both Dawe and Maksymetz were honoured for making significant impact in Red Deer’s community through volunteer work, public action and immense initiative to serve others.
Dawe’s family has a long history in Red Deer. As a child, he was fascinated by stories told to him directly by Kerry Wood. He grew up among some of the most influential Red Deer names, and was well acquainted with many of the previous Citizen of the Year winners.
“I got to hear firsthand from somebody who’d experienced these things and who knew so much about the natural world, tell me all these things I’d never known,” said Dawe of one of his greatest influences, Kerry Wood.
“That very personal touch – telling me about things he’d overcome, and things that challenged him, and the times where it looked like nothing could turn out right -that’s a good life experience.”
Dawe is an archivist, historian, author, volunteer and a pivotal member of Red Deer’s community. His tireless effort on many City projects, including the salvaging and restoration of the Alberta Ladies’ College (Michener administration building), along with his positive community spirit has earned him the well-deserved title of 2014 Citizen of the Year.
“It’s nice when I hear people are interested, and they’re listening and learning. Even more important is when they pick up a phone and say, ‘Michael, do you know about this?’ and I can say no, and they can tell me about it. And then you learn too and make it a two-way street,” said Dawe.
He also said he was flattered to be receiving an award with Maksymetz, calling her “The promise of a better future.”
She began her volunteering through the leadership program at Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School. This allowed her the chance to become part of a project that would build a school in Male, Kenya. She was student chair for the project and worked vigorously to promote and support her cause.
“The rewarding parts come from seeing not only my school, but my community get behind a cause. Also, knowing that the organization we worked with was empowering local people to build this school in Kenya,” she said.
“Knowing people were behind this initiative was incredibly rewarding. We benefitted our own community while assisting a community in another country on the other side of the world.”
Maksymetz said the most memorable parts of her high school career and after were when she was involved with a cause.
She also took part in various community efforts that included volunteering to provide holiday dinners, initiatives to feed the homeless and she earned the Violet Richardson Award, which honours women 14-17 engaged in volunteer activities in schools and communities.
“If you feel like you’re part of your community, and contributing it’s way easier to feel like you’re actually valued and it means something to you,” she said.
“You have the power to make improve someone else’s life by increasing abilities, opportunities and really raise up more people.”
Both Maksymetz and Dawe have shown incredible, positive community spirit and have influenced those around them to the point of earning the honour and pride of a City.
“Overall, what you really want is a community where not everything is perfect, but people are being more tolerant of who’s around us, fix little things that are little things, but can make the future better, and be positive,” said Dawe.
“Sometimes being positive is saying something isn’t appropriate. Whether you’re in private business or public service – the bottom line is that you’re there to be part of a community and to serve your public.”