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 remarkable volunteers who uplifted their community during COVID-19—showing constant selflessness and care during unprecedented times. And in November, we honoured six more local community builders. Most recently, this past February we awarded six local heroes who have stepped up in this time of need to support their communities.
As the pandemic continues to press on, we’re proud to introduce you to three 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. Unlike the initial COVID-19 Heroes CBA presentations, we arranged one surprise Zoom call where our three recipients were surprised with a Community Builder Award, and were joined virtually by 54 of their closest family, friends, colleagues, and supporters.
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!
Since arriving in Canada in 2016, Kara Eusebio has significantly supported and created inclusive communities in Ottawa.
In January 2017, she founded Cornerstone Housing for Women’s Young Professionals Advisory Board (YPAB)—the first board of its kind in Ottawa focused on empowering young professionals to advocate for inclusive housing policies and support the 500 women served by Cornerstone each year.
During her two years as Chair, the Board more than doubled in size from 9 to 21 members, and Kara helped develop programs with the women who call Cornerstone home. This included encouraging political participation and civic advocacy, hosting panel events to draw attention to the housing crisis in Ottawa and putting on social events around the themes of arts, baking, and cooking. To date, the Advisory Board has raised more than $6,000 in support of women experiencing homelessness.
Working with both the Children’s Bridge Adoption Agency and Adoption Council of Canada, Kara also served as a Coordinator for the Connect-a-Kid Adoptee Mentorship Program, providing mentorship and guidance to adopted children aged 6-12, for over 2 years. Here, Kara developed tactics with both parents and kids for children experiencing racism, those who identify as transgender or non-binary, and those living with mental health challenges.
Through the Ottawa Global Shapers, Kara developed and co-leads the Discovery Crew Project since March 2019, bringing together young professionals and young people with intellectual disabilities to form networks and friendships while fully participating as active citizens. Kara continues her work with the Ottawa Hub of the Global Shapers Community, and was even elected Curator/”President” for 2020-2021.
Even with the onset of COVID-19, Kara has not slowed down. Most recently, she was appointed a professor at Algonquin College; she currently leads the Ottawa Chapter of the Women and Colour Speaker Bootcamp; and recently wrote an opinion piece in the Ottawa Business Journal on how businesses can include Asian-Canadians in their anti-racism work.
Dr. Raynold Alorse is a natural leader with the ability to inspire and mobilize others for positive change. He has been working together with diverse community groups as a volunteer and a Board Director for non-profit boards serving vulnerable populations for several years now.
Raynold’s dedication to community service and the idea of public service is truly inspiring. As an award-winning community builder, despite his very busy schedule as a federal public servant (Economist) and as a hands-on family man, he continues to show a deep commitment to serving vulnerable populations and giving back to his community.
Utilizing his Ph.D. expertise in international relations, sustainability, corporate social responsibility and human rights, Raynold is a 2021 Climate Ambassador of the Global Youth Climate Network (GYCN), an initiative of the World Bank Group Youth Community which acts as a catalyst for young leaders across the world to develop and implement initiatives to raise awareness about climate change mitigation.
Raynold has also been serving on the Board of Nepean, Rideau, and Osgoode Community Resource Centre (NROCRC) since 2016. The NROCRC is a multi-service organization that supports diverse and marginalized populations, including individuals living in poverty, rural residents, racialized peoples, immigrants, older adults, women, youth, and many more.
Raynold took on the role of President at NROCRC in September 2020, and contributes to decision-making by providing strategic oversight and supporting initiatives to positively impact the overall health and well-being of vulnerable populations. He is extremely proud of how staff, volunteers (including board members) and diverse stakeholders have demonstrated resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Beyond his work with non-profit boards, Raynold has spoken to diverse community groups and universities (including the University of Ottawa) on the themes of hope, leadership, student success, and mental health awareness.
Kim Hyslop is a criminal lawyer who demonstrates an outstanding commitment of service to Ottawa and her community at large.
In late 2015, Kim became a founding director of Barristers for a Better Bytown, a charity focused on raising funds to support charitable causes in the Ottawa area with projects and initiatives that help at-risk children and youth, people experiencing homelessness, and other vulnerable groups within our community.
Currently serving as the Treasurer of Barristers for a Better Bytown, Kim and has offered her support in logistical planning and financial work for the organization. From finding new recipients or local groups to support, organizing new projects and fundraising initiatives to take on, and even recruiting fellow local lawyers and non-members to attend events and contribute to the cause—Kim does it all. Kim’s creativity, enthusiasm, and passion for supporting those in need have greatly contributed to her success as a fundraiser and volunteers.
In late 2019, Kim hosted a Holiday Food Drive Challenge, which invited local law firms, judges, and support staff to compete against each other to see who could raise the most amount of food for local food banks. Kim’s nominator Rosalind notes that she happily lugged many bags of food downtown to assist with the drive.
While Kim had only expected to support five local food centers in the area, the food drive was far more successful than expected, and Kim and her fellow lawyers delivered donations of over seven tonnes of non-perishable food, as well as warm clothing like toques and socks, to seven local centers and the Ottawa Food Bank.
In the past 6 years, Kim and the team of legal professionals have raised over $75,000 for local charities in our region. Kim has spent hundreds of hours organizing local events and volunteering opportunities for groups including the Snowsuit Fund, Shepherds of Good Hope, Parkdale Food Centre, and Habitat for Humanity.
On top of her work with Barristers for a Better Bytown, Kim has also been a volunteer with ABLE2 (formerly known as Citizen’s Advocacy), a local organization that works to support and connect people with disabilities, for over ten years now.
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.