Recognizing outstanding contributions to the community, the 2018 Citizen of the Year Gala, hosted by the Rotary Clubs of Red Deer, was held Wednesday evening at the Sheraton Red Deer.
The honours went to Terry Loewen and Gian Carlo Estoesta who were named Red Deer Citizen of the Year and Young Citizen of the Year respectively.
Estoesta, 19, said it was pleasantly surprising to learn of his selection for the honour.
“I volunteer at the emergency department for the local hospital, I’ve been volunteering there for over two years now,” he explained. “I’ve also been tutoring, something that started when I was in high school in Grade 10.
“I’ve tutored numerous students throughout my high school career, and now I’m transitioning to tutoring adults via the library through the Adult Literacy Program which I’ve recently joined.
“I’ve also been a part of numerous friendship meals hosted by the church – it’s when we prepare meals and feed the homeless. I’m part of the justice and mercy committee of my local parish where we do the friendship meals and clothing drives for example,” he said. “Also, if there are miscellaneous volunteer opportunities throughout the community I just basically sign up and help out as much as I can.”
Estoesta, who graduated from Notre Dame High School and just completed his first year of studies at Red Deer College, said volunteering provides a unique opportunity to be more connected to the people in one’s community.
“For me, that’s really important because it allows you to expand your world view a bit more and learn different things,” he said.
Loewen said that receiving the honour of Citizen of the Year was humbling and exciting. “I’m grateful that I was chosen for this, and we are fortunate to be living in the city of Red Deer.
“What I love about this community is that it’s giving, it’s caring, and it’s got great spirit,” said Loewen, who is the board chair of the Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre.
“Whenever we have anything in the City, everyone volunteers, everyone sticks together and we always do a great job with whatever we do – whether it’s putting on events or some sort of charity (event), Red Deer is a great place. There’s probably no better place in the world than Red Deer to live,” he added.
Loewen has been involved with the Central Middle School Benevolence Fund, raising money for that; also raising money for people who can’t afford to have Christmas.
He’s also been involved with the Big Brothers Big Sisters Club’s Camp Alexo out by Nordegg, and of course there is his ongoing work with and dedication to the Child Advocacy Centre.
“The community has to come together and do things together, and I think that camaraderie and great community spirit actually makes you who you are as a community,” he explained. “When we have to step up and do things like that, I think it’s more important than I had actually ever realized.
“I’m a real people person and I like to bring people together.”
Also featured during the gala was guest speaker Beckie Scott, a three time Olympian who won gold in the 2002 Olympic Games in cross-country skiing and silver in 2006.
Upon retiring, she was elected to the International Olympic Committee for eight years.
She is currently president and CEO of the non-profit organization Spirit North, which works to improve the lives of indigenous children and youth through the transformative power of sport and play, according to her biography.
Iaian Park, chair of the selection committee and past president of the Rotary Club of Red Deer, said that when considering who lands the Citizen of the Year titles, things like time spent on various community endeavours is a key part of the process.
He noted that Loewen is a driving force behind many local projects where the influence will be felt for years to come.
Of Estoesta, he said how impressive it was that not only is the young man busy with school and activities, but he also makes the time to contribute generously to the community as well.
Making the selection for both awards isn’t easy as there are really many deserving folks around the City, he added.
“It’s tough – there are so many people in Red Deer who are so deserving. That’s the neat part, is that you get to see the accomplishments of people throughout Red Deer.
“There are some amazing people who contribute so much who I don’t think a lot of people are aware of.”