December 16, 2019

FRTA Nominates Gerhard Sawatzky for an ARTA Volunteer Award

Foothills Retired Teachers Association (FRTA) wishes to acknowledge the many contributions Gary Sawatzky has made to FRTA, to ARTA, and to other organizations over his lifetime.

Gerhard — or Gary as some know him — has always helped others. There are at least three significant aspects of how Gary works and volunteers: a strong desire to help, a laser focus on detail, and the joy of knowing that the task he starts, he completes. These aspects have served Gary well as an educator, administrator, financial planner, and volunteer.

After high school graduation, Gary took advantage of an opportunity to volunteer in a church-sponsored year-long program in a daycare. He so enjoyed this experience that it sparked his desire to work with children and his pursuit of two degrees which led to a career of work in education. As a young husband and father, Gary volunteered in a variety of ways with his church and with his children’s interests. He coached hockey and soccer and was involved with the local swim club. At school, many of his volunteer hours centred around coaching teams, science fair, student council, and whatever was needed.

As his children grew and left home, Gary filled his hours with his teaching and administrative duties, and by volunteering with the Town of High River on the Business and Tourism committee, with the Strive Society and its annual street hockey tournament, with the Foothills Advocacy In Motion Society, and by helping organize marathons and fundraisers. Since 2014 Gary continues his church work and has been a volunteer porter at the High River Hospital, helping patients get to their therapies and appointments.

Gary often ended up in the treasurer role when volunteering, but that was not a plan on his part or even a choice! What he discovered was that money and finances were interesting and he wanted to ensure that organizational funds were respectfully and carefully accounted for. Before he retired from his successful career in education, Gary headed back to school to earn his Certified Financial Planner professional certification. This led to his second career as a financial adviser.

Upon retirement from Foothills School Division, Gary became active in FRTA and has held the vice-president’s position, the president’s position (for three years), and was the chair of the 2018 ARTA Annual Golf Tournament Committee. At the ARTA level, we all benefit from Gary’s experience and expertise with financial matters. He was a member of the ARTA Board of Directors for two years and was elected in 2017 to ARTA’s Benefit Plan Trust Fund Board of Trustees. He has made a presentation to the ARTA Board of Directors providing an overview of investment terminology and general principles relating to ARTA trust investments. In the past, Gary has written financial articles for news&views as well.

Gary has volunteered over his whole adult life. He is always willing to help enthusiastically. His curiosity about how systems work has led to his varied volunteer experiences and continues to do so. FRTA is proud to congratulate Gary Sawatzky as our 2019 Volunteer Award Winner.