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.
Early in the summer of 2020, in collaboration with Apt613, we sent out a call for nominations to honour local volunteers who stepped up in this time of need. Together, we recognized five outstanding COVID Heroes with Community Builder Awards to honour the incredible work they did to support their communities and the most vulnerable people within them throughout the pandemic.
In August 2020, we chose to honour eight more remarkable volunteers who uplifted their community during COVID-19—showing constant selflessness and care during unprecedented times. In November, we celebrated six more local community builders who have stepped up in this time of need to support their communities. Unlike the initial COVID-19 Heroes CBA presentations, we arranged one surprise Zoom call where five recipients were surprised with a Community Builder Award, and were joined virtually by 84 of their closest family, friends, colleagues, and supporters.
As the pandemic continues to press on, we’re proud to introduce you to six more incredible community builders. 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.
We thank everyone who took the time to nominate these everyday heroes and we thank you, community builders, for your exceptional contributions.
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!
Davy Sabourin has been an integral part of Ottawa’s 2SLGBTQ+ community involvement and growth since 2017. As a human rights advocate focusing on 2SLGBTQ+ issues, anti-racism, and mental health, Davy has acted as an educator, connector and bridge-builder for various communities in our region and beyond.
Most recently, Davy served as the Chairperson of Capital Pride until November 2020. Davy’s close relationship with Capital Pride dates back to 2017, when he served as the Community Relations Officer, actively working to engage the National Capital Region’s 2SLGBTQ+ community and allies.
In that role, he helped lead the creation of the Capital Pride Youth Committee, which mentors and empowers young 2SLGBTQ+-identifying individuals in the development and implementation of policies and bylaws, event and festival planning, and community outreach.
His passion for volunteering and community building is immensely noticeable in his work. Davy served as the Regional Director for Canada on InterPride’s Board of Directors, representing Canadian Pride organizations on an international level. Davy was also appointed to the Monument Advisory Committee for Canada’s LGBTQ2+ National Monument under the initiative of the LGBT Purge Fund, as well as Governor with the Émergence Foundation.
Davy’s mission for a safe, inclusive community has helped create opportunities to celebrate, advocate, educate and connect people, respecting the full diversity of the 2SLGBTQ+ community. Davy strives to be an agent of community engagement and change—for the equality and advancement of 2SLGBTQ+ human rights on both a local and global scale.
Charity Bartlett’s commitment and drive for a more connected community is evident from her time with the Carlington Community Association (CCA), a non-profit organization that provides a framework for neighbour projects, activities and social events. For the last three years Charity has served as the association’s president and was an active member for several years prior.
Charity is an advocate and community builder at heart. During her tenure as President, the Carlington Community Association has seen a dramatic period of growth as Charity worked hard to promote advocacy, connectivity, and education of community services and programs. Under her leadership, the CCA secured vital grants and sponsorships allowing more accessible and inclusive community-driven events.
As president of the CCA, Charity made it her mission to bridge the divide between the Carlington Alexander and Caldwell communities.
Charity has consistently sought ways to include residents from Caldwell in CCA activities, and has worked with partners to host events in Caldwell, building trust and a sense of community for all.
Charity Bartlett is a force for change in her community. She has worked tirelessly for those who are struggling against the forces of the social determinants of health and actively seeks solutions to community challenges.
Isobel is a youth and women’s empowerment advocate and leader, dedicating over 500 volunteer hours a year since 2014 to improving the lives and community of those around her.
She began her philanthropic journey with YOUth Heroes, a youth-led organization that provided mentorship and resources in collaboration with YouthREX, a research and evaluation hub, to form an afternoon school program for at-risk youth. The NOISE: Superhero School program focused on instilling the importance of philanthropy and education to inspire, guide, and mentor youth to bring social change to their communities.
Building upon her experience in grassroots mobilization and passion for social advocacy, in 2019 Isobel joined The Empow(Her) Network, a non-profit organization that provides young women in Ottawa opportunities for growth and networking, while encouraging and supporting them on their paths to assume positions of leadership.
Isobel and The Empow(Her) Network have hosted countless events and workshops that have helped hundreds of women in Ottawa excel in their professional, personal, and civic lives through peer-to-peer mentorship, networking opportunities, and skills-building workshops.
Isobel’s dedication to empowerment and mentorship is displayed through the countless hours she has committed to building an inspiring, supportive community.
Blanche Mirault has worked tirelessly for the better part of a decade ensuring that everyone in her community has a place that they can come home to. Blanche operates “Got You In Mind”, a community-orientated thrift store located in Pembroke.
In 2018, with support from a newly created board of directors and assistance from a lawyer, Got You in Mind achieved not-for-profit-status. Community driven to its core, the thrift store operates on donations without assistance from provincial or federal grants. Since it’s opening, the store has served as a symbol of generosity in Renfrew County, with gently used clothing and household items given a new home to those in need. Proceeds collected from sales are used by Blanche to create small wellness kits containing vital necessities like toiletries for community members in need.
Blanche’s kindness is admired throughout her community in Pembroke—she is known as someone who never turns away anyone experiencing a personal tragedy or crisis. She is committed to ensuring individuals dealing with their own mental health needs have a friendly space and a compassionate ear.
As the weather grew colder, Blanche saw the community struggling to obtain the necessities to stay warm. Determined, Blanche created the free coat initiative. Donations of coats, hats and mitts are placed on a rack placed outside the store for anyone who needs them. Her kind gesture has provided over 200 individuals an opportunity to stay warm and connected with their community.
Blanche acts from a place of compassion, empathy, and generosity, and has been a relentless supporter of those members in our community who face barriers. Thanks to Blanche, every donation includes an extra item for those in need: Hope.
Avery and Rowan Parkinson
Avery (16) and Rowan (13) are uniquely passionate in their aim to spread a sense of responsibility and community amongst their peers. Together they cofounded the Maple Wishes Foundation, a local outlet that raises awareness and fundraises for eleven service projects across our region.
In 2015, after witnessing the debilitating effects of Parkinson’s disease on their grandfather, Avery and Rowan began raising awareness at their school. Every year since, they have continued to raise awareness by crafting and distributing thousands of handmade tokens, each bearing a butterfly—a symbol of hope. THE BUTTERFLY PROJECT has expanded to include community awareness and fundraising campaigns in support of the Parkinson’s Research Consortium (Ottawa) and has to date successfully raised over $60,000.
In 2016, prompted by the reality of the homelessness crisis and challenges around food security in Ottawa, Avery and Rowan became regular suppliers of homemade meals to various community centres and homeless shelters. On a weekly basis, Avery and Rowan organize a sandwich making session for one of the local shelters.
The individual sessions provide anywhere from 50 to 1000 sandwiches at a time and have been organized to involve residents at seniors centres, youth groups, Parkinson’s patients, and school groups. To date, the A SANDWICH OR TWO initiative has provided over 20,000 meals to our community in four years.
Each Maple Wishes project demonstrates Avery’s and Rowan’s compassion and their innate drive to better their communities.
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.