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David Narbaitz and Jesse Burcsik of Ottawa Safety Hugs. Photo provided.

Awesome Ottawa: October Award to Support COVID-Safe Hugs

By Awesome Ottawa on October 21, 2020


October’s Awesome Ottawa award goes to David Narbaitz and Jesse Burcsik to support their facilitation of COVID-safe hugs in the city.

“We’re creating a multi-use physical barrier,” explains David, “that allows two people from different bubbles to hug each other safely. It’s portable, made from recycled wood and curtains, and works for a large variety of heights. We plan to show it off on weekends in public places as weather permits.”

David Narbaitz and Jesse Burcsik of Ottawa Safety Hugs. Photo provided.

“The basic design,” David continues, “includes a three-layer barrier between huggers. The outermost layers are made of non-permeable shower curtains. After each hug, one shower curtain from each of the outer layers is removed for off-site cleaning and replaced. We plan to have enough curtains for about 40 hugs.”

David notes that “the barrier will have arm holes so participants can get a real top-quality hug,” and that a sanitation station will be set up nearby.

David Narbaitz and Jesse Burcsik demonstrate their safe hugging system. Photo provided by Ottawa Safety Hugs.

To see photos of the Safety Hug in action and learn where in the city it might appear, follow @safetyhug613 on Instagram.

David is a solar technician for a global renewable energy company, and Jesse is a product manager at the Canadian Digital Service. They have also been the owner of Ottawa’s Monopolatte board game café and a contributor to Chinatown Remixed, respectively.

Awesome Ottawa is part of a global movement of self-organizing chapters forwarding the interest of awesome in the universe, $1,000 at a time. At each chapter, 10 or so “trustees” each contribute $100 every month, and review short applications received online to decide on the recipient of the pooled funds — usually a local project, but occasionally a particularly awesome one far away from home. Globally, close to $5 million has already been awarded – $132,000 of that by Awesome Ottawa. For more information, visit