Sometimes when living in a place renowned for its beauty, it’s easy to focus on the mountains, lakes, and sunrises that define our surroundings. Then a person like Hernan Argana comes along and reminds us why we really love where we live — the people. Just like those mountains, lakes, and sunrises, Argana has a way of making those around him feel at peace.
Always smiling, Argana is able to stay sunny through even some of the most difficult situations: like living apart from his family for seven years while he worked hard to become a permanent resident of Canada while saving up for his daughter’s non-elective heart surgery back home in the Philippines. A testament of his character is the $500 that was collected unbeknownst to him by the Western Union store staff to help Argana cover the medical costs of this surgery, an act of kindness that made him realize Banff was his home. Reunited with his wife Lady Anne and two daughters Hershey Anne and Hershey Ynan in 2012, Argana began to pay it forward and back to the place that supported him when he needed it by volunteering for the Town of Banff’s after school program teaching students how to play basketball, despite working two jobs.
“Hernan is truly a role model in our community,” Jeanie Godfrey, who works in settlement services for the Town of Banff, says. “Though his contributions may not be visible to many, they are felt deeply and subtly. Hernan epitomizes the shining qualities that make him such a vital part of our community, now and in the future.”
Godfrey says that even a brief encounter with Argana will leave a person putting his or her own lives into perspective: he works hard but has time to volunteer.
“He makes time to share with those around him in a gentle way that makes people feel immediately comfortable. When we watch him during our after school program, he is so encouraging with absolutely no judgment — he makes everyone feel special.”
For Argana, he’s just contributing back to a community that he says gave him so much.
“Volunteering is a great opportunity to give back what Canada gave to my family. The community provided me with help when I didn’t know what to do,” he says. “It’s the people who live here who make this place beautiful.”