Renie D’Aquila’s compassion for others and willingness to go above and beyond in both personal and professional pursuits has earned her the distinction of being Delta’s Citizen of the Year.
The longtime executive director of Reach Child and Youth Development Society was bestowed the honour before a packed ball room at Tsawwassen Springs Friday night (Nov. 17) during the Delta Chamber of Commerce’s 72nd Annual Business Excellence Awards gala.
D’Aquila was recognized as a dedicated advocate and leader who has been an instrumental force in fostering positive change and community growth within Delta.
“From her humble beginnings teaching cooking and aerobics to adults with special needs, to Delta Recycling Society where she helped spearhead Delta’s community-wide recycling program, to her impactful leadership as the executive director at Reach Child and Youth Development Society, Renie has served as an inspiration in community service and business leadership,” reads a chamber press release.
A longtime South Delta resident who has three sons with her husband Rod Lotzkar, D’Aquila’s involvement with Reach — a non-profit organization that helps children and youth with autism and special needs reach their full potential, know then as the Delta Association for Child Development — began when her son started attending the organization’s preschool. D’Aquila was a natural fit to join the association’s board of directors as a parent, becoming executive director in 1999. (The association change its name to Reach Child and Youth Development Society in April of 2008.)
During D’Aquila’s more than 20 years at the helm, Reach has expanded its services and ensured that all of its programs follow a positive, supportive and family-centered approach. Thanks to that focus and D’Aquila’s work with others to attract sustainable funding, Reach has grown to serve over 1,200 kids in Delta, Surrey and Langley each year, enabling families to experience success and offering each child the opportunity to reach their potential.
“There is always a way we can help children and families who are struggling, and even in the most complex situations and that’s what we do,” D’Aquila said in a society press release. “We want families to know that help is within reach.”
D’Aquila was instrumental in forming the Reach Foundation Board and spearheaded the $5.7 million Building for Children Together campaign to construct the 20,000-square-foot Lois E. Jackson Kinsmen Centre for Children in Ladner, which officially opened its doors in February of 2018. The organization also operates from two other locations in North Delta and three more in Surrey.
Phyllis With, a volunteer with Reach and president of the society’s board of directors, has worked closely with D’Aquila for almost 20 years, and says she is impressed by the “quiet, unassuming ways Renie works with others to achieve positive change in so many aspects of our community.”
“Renie does not look for recognition for herself but shares her knowledge and expertise to improve the lives of children, youth and their families,” With said in a press release.
D’Aquila’s tireless efforts extend far beyond her professional role. She has been a steadfast advocate for inclusivity, education and social progress in the community, inspiring countless others to join her in making Delta a better place for all.
“Renie D’Aquila’s compassion, dedication and relentless pursuit of positive change serves as an inspiration to us all. Her impact on Delta is immeasurable, and her recognition as the 2023 Citizen of the Year for 2023 is truly well-deserved,” Jill McKnight, executive director of the Delta Chamber of Commerce, said in a press release.