Inspiring local citizens

Red Deer’s citizens of the year were named recently, and the women who landed the honours are certainly inspiring.

Kathy Lacey, a volunteer of many organizations in Red Deer and Central Alberta, was named the 2011 Citizen of the Year. Azalea Lehndorff was named Young Citizen of the Year. The awards were handed out at a gala celebration in the City last week.

Lacey has volunteered at the Westerner for about 35 years. She has also given her time to the annual Festival of Trees, a major fundraiser for the local health region, since its inception.

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

Lehndorff, who grew up in an Amish Mennonite community within the United States, studied at Lacombe’s Canadian University College. She’s been working with A Better World, a local international development and humanitarian organization, to help educate girls in Afghanistan.

We can all learn something from these two women who clearly have given so much of themselves to organizations that in turn give back to the community. On a local level, Lacey has served tirelessly to make a difference. Giving and volunteering has obviously done much for her as well on a personal level – she is a delightful, upbeat and cheerful woman to be around.

Lehndorff also shows how life-changing it can be to put others first. At such a young age, she shows great maturity and will no doubt go on to do even bigger things in terms of service.

There are many organizations across Central Alberta that need more people like Lacey and Lehndorff. A person doesn’t necessarily have to have a grand vision either — it doesn’t take much to make a significant difference.

If we all just gave an hour a week, for example, it would be remarkable what could be accomplished in this community.

There are many forms of giving back, from visiting seniors in nursing homes, to fundraising, to serving on any number of boards. Of course, a person can also think globally as well, as there are endless opportunities to give back via an international aid organization for example.

Red Deer as a community is known for its tremendous generosity and volunteer spirit. But there is always room for more help. We encourage Red Deerians to find a cause they may feel passionate about and just get involved. The more community minded we all are, the more we benefit.