Airdrie is full of men we admire. You know them – the guy who always shovels the sidewalk of his elderly neighbours; the man who helps out at every event at his children’s school; the gentleman who generously supports needy causes in the community – anonymously; the City utility worker who responds to late-night callouts with a smile on his face; the teacher who touches lives and opens doors; the firefighters, police officers, emergency medical personnel who keep their community safe.
Although airdrielife can’t profile every man in Airdrie who deserves recognition, we are pleased to present to you a few of those whose have earned our admiration for many different reasons.
Jamie and Brody Atkin, father-and-son trampoline & tumbling athletes
Jamie Atkin, head coach with Airdrie Edge Gymnastics Club, has been a gymnast for many years. When he was young, he admits, he wanted to be a ninja, and so was drawn to his sport. “I picked this sport in particular because it is so out-of-the-ordinary,” Atkin says. “It requires exceptional commitment, effort and courage and helps foster exceptional people. Nothing else is quite like it.” His coaching has given him an opportunity to make a difference, something he finds incredibly fulfilling, especially since he has the chance to work with individual athletes for several years. “I love to teach, and amateur competitive sport gives me the opportunity to try to pass on the values I cherish over a longer term,” Atkin says. And when it comes to his son, he certainly sees Brody as a young man to admire. “I’m incredibly proud of Brody every moment of his life,” he says.
Athlete Brody Atkin has followed in his father’s footsteps in more ways than one – he, too, says that he sees himself as a ninja. When it comes to his athletic pursuits, it’s a given for Brody that he’ll always do something to keep fit, and gymnastics fill that need and more. “I … really enjoy spending time with people who love to work hard at what they love,” he says. “The atmosphere is great for me.” Having his father as coach has only made the experience more special. “I love my dad so getting to spend lots of time with him is awesome,” Brody says. After he graduates, the teen intends to keep up his gymnastics training, and he’d like to work a year before continuing his education. “I love music and playing saxophone but I also love math, physics and chemistry so I would like to minor in music and major in petrochemical engineering or something along the lines of astrophysics,” he says.
Const. Jason Curtis, Airdrie RCMP community resource officer and media liaison
Const. Jason Curtis loves his job. Curtis is making a difference in Airdrie by working directly with members of the community and being the face of the local RCMP. “I’m just kind of your neighbourhood friendly RCMP officer,” he says. Curtis especially likes working with elementary school children, facilitating the DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program and just generally being a resource for young people. His hope with DARE, he says, is that the students will absorb what he is teaching and remember their options when they are older. Knowing that he is touching young lives in such a positive way is reward in itself. “I’d do (my job) for free,” he says with a laugh.
Paul Schulz, City of Airdrie Chief Administrative Officer
For 29 years, Paul Schulz’s smile has brightened the halls of City Hall, and for the past five years, he has been heading up the City of Airdrie as CAO. For Schulz, watching his community grow and mature has been exciting and he sees great things in Airdrie’s future – from new or expanded civic facilities to greater variety in housing opportunities and more business. “Community spirit will continue to shine through expanded and new events and community organizations,” he says. “Truly, Airdrie will evolve with its own identity and be considered less of a suburban community.” Although his job has its challenges, Schulz credits his colleagues with helping make his job fulfilling. “I love the people [who] make the City of Airdrie a successful organization,” he says. “I feel privileged to lead a very dedicated workforce very much focused on providing excellent service to our citizens.”
Gordon Perry, children’s author
More than 35 years ago when Gordon Perry’s four children were young, rather than simply reading to them he began to make up his own stories for their entertainment. Fast forward to today and Perry is a highly successful children’s author, with storybooks much loved by readers of all ages. Despite his vivid imagination and storytelling ability, Perry didn’t actually begin to write his stories down until four years ago, after retiring from 40 years in the construction industry. “I finally resolved to see if I could find an illustrator to help make the magic happen and bring my stories to life,” he says. “I am being very well rewarded for my efforts.” His favourite book? “I love them all,” Perry says, “and I’m having so much fun sharing them with people everywhere, and I revel in receiving the positive feedback from parents.”
Bernie Moen, counsellor
Social work has been Bernie Moen’s calling for nearly all of his adult life. “I’ve always liked helping people,” he says, “and people have always been attracted to me with their problems.” Having begun his career in the Yukon, Moen eventually moved to Airdrie more than two decades ago, and he has been a counsellor with Community Links for 14 years. While he very much enjoys his counselling work with couples, Moen’s men’s group has special meaning. “I think I’m a better man, a better husband, a better father, a better person … because of the group,” he says. Away from the office, he enthusiastically volunteers and raises funds for non-profit organizations. Another passion is woodworking, which, he says, soothes away every ache and pain, every stress at the end of the day. “Eventually I hope maybe to set up a little shop,” he says. Until such time, Moen will continue to make a huge difference to the people of his community, both professionally and as a volunteer.
Dr. George Rotaru, veterinarian
Heartland’s Dr. George Rotaru – who graduated from veterinary school in Romania in 1997 before emigrating to Canada four years later – decided on his career path in life at age five, when his favourite cow got sick and a veterinarian saved her life. “And I never changed my mind,” he says. Rotaru not only heals and helps others’ pets, his own life is enriched with all sorts of animal companions: two dogs, three cats, six fish and a horse. “My life would be empty without pets,” he says. “Every single one is special to me in a different way.” Rotaru feels incredibly lucky in his work: he gets lots of ‘kisses’ from his animal clients every day, and he also is able to see the role they play in the lives of their families. “They bring happiness and health to their owners,” he says. “For me it is like being on a holiday every day of work.”
Dennis Tinkler, Bert Church Theatre manager
For Dennis Tinkler, the performing arts are so much more than simply entertainment – they are an essential part of the human experience. “I love the performing arts. Music, drama, dance, you name it … it all warms the soul and strengthens people,” he says. The theatre aficionado’s enthusiasm and passion is palpable, especially when he speaks of live performance, such as what he and his colleagues at Bert Church Theatre are able to provide the community. “In such a digital age where most of our entertainment lives are prerecorded, edited, bottled and sold to us like any other product, the live experience engages and holds us,” Tinkler says. “It brings us back to our humanity and nurtures that which we’ve lost.”
Alex Granley, student
Alex Granley appreciates the value of a good education. Granley recently earned 100 per cent on three diploma exams: biology, chemistry and math 30-1. Knowing that the results of the diploma exams really help out his overall marks, Alex was more than motivated to do well, and acing the exams was just icing on the cake. “I think academics is just really important,” he says. However, there’s more to the St. Martin de Porres student than academics. Granley, who likes classical music, has played piano for 10 years and is also an avid volleyball player. Looking ahead, he plans to attend the University of Alberta in engineering, a subject area he enjoys because of the challenge. “It’s a lot of science, and that’s sort of my stronger area,” he says.
Rob Van Biezen
We featured Rob Van Biezen in the summer 2012 issue of airdrielife, honouring his dedication to his community as the Soul of Airdrie award winner. What most of you do not know is the connection that I had with Rob. He was a charming, effusive, generous, demanding, loyal and deeply responsible man. I admired him immensely and was honoured to work with him on the Alberta 55+ Games in 2009. I also had to face Rob several times when I appeared in front of the City of Airdrie Community Services Board and always found him to be engaged and committed to his role. I did not often see Rob socially, but every time we ran into each other there was a genuine affection and interest in how each other was doing. I will deeply miss knowing Rob was there in my corner. I was always in his. – Sherry Shaw-Froggatt, publisher airdrielife