While COVID-19 has changed the ways we gather, celebrate, and honour one another, it has not changed the way our neighbours step up to support each other in times of crisis.
From making essential grocery trips for immunocompromised neighbours, to making wellness phone call checks for seniors, to helping newcomer families access the support services they need—volunteers have come together now when we need them the most.
Exactly one year ago, we collaborated with our friends at Apt613 and sent out a call for nominations to celebrate local volunteers who stepped up in this time of need. Together, we recognized five outstanding COVID Heroes with Community Builder Awards, honouring the incredible work they did to support their communities and the most vulnerable people within them throughout the pandemic.
One year after our initial partnership, and as the pandemic continues to press on, we’re proud to recognize Apt613 with a Community Builder Award!
Hosted by Sarah Onyango—a tireless promoter and champion of African and Caribbean culture and activities and well-known fixture in Ottawa’s community television and radio scene—we surprised our recipients at their annual birthday celebration attended by volunteer editors, photographers, writers, podcasters, board members, supporters, and friends.
With the help of these changemakers and their unwavering support for their community, more people across our region feel connected, nourished, comfortable, encouraged, safe, involved, and heard. Read on to learn more about Apt613’s community building work.
Do you know a community builder who has gone above and beyond to support their communities through COVID-19? Our Community Builder Awards program accepts nominations year-round!
Since its inception, Apt613 has relied on its growing positive reputation in the community to rally volunteers to spotlight the best of Ottawa and the region.
Whether covering music events, showcasing the best events happening on weekends, profiling changemakers and community builders, or providing a platform for innovative organizations to spread their message, Apt613 aims to connect people to their neighbourhoods, and promote the site as a place where people can learn and talk about new and exciting people, places, and goings on.
In early 2018, Apt613 partnered with United Way to be the primary platform to showcase the stories of Community Builder Award recipients. As a volunteer-run local media outlet, Apt613 aims to showcase as much diversity and interest in Ottawa as possible, but they are limited by their capacity and the interests and resources of their volunteers.
By providing a platform to United Way, they opened up the opportunity for us to showcase our work, highlight volunteers, and also shine a light on areas of impact in the city that maybe weren’t receiving enough recognition.
As a free platform, Apt613 also curates local events, facilitates discussions about Ottawa and its past, and newly hosts a job board for arts and culture jobs in Ottawa. Apt613 has won “Best Community News Website” at the Canadian Online Publishing Awards in 2012, and from 2016 through 2021.
Throughout COVID-19, Apt613 spearheaded the COVID-19 Heroes series which showcased 5 local volunteers who had stepped up during the pandemic to help people in need.
Additionally, they continue to provide their platform to encourage shopping local safely, to promote engagement in virtual events for local charities and arts organizations, and highlight individuals and groups who give back to those most in need.
The essence and value of Apt613 has never been more poignant, nor necessary, than in this past year. Neighbours helping neighbours. Friends supporting friends. Community coming together to ensure people are less isolated, more connected, and understand the opportunities and social interactions available to them—ultimately strengthening the fabric of our city.
While we don’t yet know when we will be able to gather again at the Walls of Inspiration across our region, we look forward to adding the names of community builders to these walls in the future.