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  • Writer's pictureLori Gagen

A grateful Citizen of the Year in 2023

I was taken by complete surprise at a meeting of the Albion Rotary on June 29, 2023. Invited by the club to provide an update on Noble County economic development and my role at Be Noble Inc. as the operations manager, I attended the club's annual meeting with my husband, Dan. We were treated to a delicious dinner at One10 West Main as the club's guests.

Photo of Lori Gagen and Carla Fiandt.
Me (at left) receiving a certificate honoring me as Citizen of the Year from Carla Fiandt.

After dinner, club president Joy LeCount introduced me to the group and I provided a series of updates, grateful for the opportunity to inform members of the community about the great work being done countywide to ensure a thriving economy.

When I finished, Joy opened the business meeting with some updates and inspirations of her own, then turned the program over to Rotarian Carla Fiandt, who happens to be our neighbor and longtime banker.

Carla began to describe the Rotary's choice as Citizen of the Year by referring to the speech I had just finished and, in that moment, a wave of shock came over me as I realized she was talking about me! The fearless leader of the Albion STAR Team, a true civic leader and friend, Steve Hook, had nominated me!

I began volunteering in the Albion community decades ago, while employed at the Noble County American, the weekly newspaper owned and edited by Bob Gagen, my father-in-law. In the mid-1980's, I served as Treasurer for the Albion Chamber of Commerce. When the Eta Theta Chapter of Tri Kappa came to town, I became a charter member. Over the years, I volunteered thousands of hours to the mission of Black Pine Animal Park (later "Sanctuary"), where I went on to work for nearly 13 years.

Since leaving Black Pine in 2019, I began volunteering with the Albion STAR Team. Several months ago I sought out a position on the Albion Redevelopment Commission board, drawn to the responsibilities they have to help move Albion forward.

Since joining the staff at Be Noble, I encountered a growing number of non-profit organizations in need of help with websites and marketing materials. These encounters, and the challenges so many small businesses faced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and related shutdowns, were the catalyst for the launch of Catchy Creations LLC in 2021. Although I have been blessed to work with many clients, I have especially enjoyed volunteering my time - and offering deep discounts - in service to several of my home-town and local favorite non-profits, too.

I cannot imagine living in a community and not becoming involved in it. After all, "community" is, to me, a feeling of fellowship that comes from working alongside others who share a vision. When we strive to achieve that vision, we are contributing to the sustainability and enhancement of the very place where we live, work, and play.

I am humbled and grateful for the Albion Rotary's honor as the 2023 Citizen of the Year and thank them all for their own service to our community. We are better together!

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