HONOURED: Young Citizen of the Year Azalea Lehndorff

Citizens of the Year honoured to have such a title

  • May. 11, 2011 3:30 p.m.

Two Red Deerians were honoured recently at the Capri Centre during the 2011 Citizen Of The Year Gala.

Kathy Lacey, a life-long volunteer of many organizations in Red Deer, was given the title of Citizen of the Year along with Azalea Lehndorff, who was named Young Citizen of the Year. The Gala was held last Thursday evening.

Lacey has volunteered at the Westerner for about 35 years and got her start from her parents who were always volunteering.

She has been involved in the Festival of Trees since the beginning, which is an event that has raised over $6 million for the hospital.

She is also involved in many other organizations such as the Red Deer College Affair of the Arts, The Foundation for Red Deer Public Schools, Central Alberta Freestyle Ski Club, and the Central Alberta Aquatics Centre.

“It still hasn’t sunk in completely,” said Lacey. “It is such an amazing honour.”

Lacey has been committed to serving Red Deer in any way she can and continues to share her ideas and passion for helping others.

“I sort of feel like I haven’t earned my right, but as I was getting ready today I found all my pins that I have earned so it was kind of neat for me to go back and look at all the years,” said Lacey.

Lacey had no idea she was receiving an award until Lehndorff walked into the meeting.

“I thought they had something in mind for the Westerner, but then I walked in and Mayor (Morris) Flewwelling was standing beside me and so I thought it was about parade week and then when Azalea came in I knew this was about something else,” said Lacey.

Lehndorff grew up in an Amish Mennonite community within the United States and realized she needed a high school education to fulfill her dreams.

At just 14-years-old she left her parents’ home and attended boarding school and graduated from high school.

She made her way to Lacombe’s Canadian University College where she worked six jobs to pay her way through a biology degree, as well as chemistry and English.

Now she has been working with a Central Alberta based international development organization to help educate young Afghanistan girls.

She has been leading the charge to build 100 classrooms in Afghanistan.

“It is great. I don’t feel like I deserve it but it inspires me to do more,” said Lehndorff.

“It is the feeling of happiness that comes from it. I really enjoy knowing that I have the power of helping somebody else have a better life because I feel really blessed here.”

So far a total of 16 classrooms have been completed and she has raised $178,000 for the project.

“Part of my purpose is to talk about the needs in Afghanistan and education because I believe education is a human right for everyone,” said Lehndorff. “It is really nice that people are recognizing the value in it because it is a challenging road but it is worth while.”

Even though Lehndorff is not from Central Alberta the award is fitting for such a young women and she encourages young people to find their calling in life.

“Try and find a passion and don’t underestimate what you can do because sometimes the hardest things are the most worthwhile,” she said.

“Often times young people don’t know what they are capable of so you have to have the courage to try and you need people around you to encourage you and as a young person you don’t know what you can do until someone believes in you.”

tsigurdson@reddeerexpress.com

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