Samantha Pope is one of Apt613’s correspondents at United Way Ottawa. With its Community Builder Award program, United Way Ottawa honours Ottawa’s outstanding volunteers: the organizations, partnerships, agencies, neighbourhood groups and individuals who work tirelessly to make our city a better place for everyone.
It was a frigid January night and the clock read 12am, but that did not stop Steve Mongrain from tending to his outdoor community skating rink.
While the rest of Ottawa hibernated in their beds, Steve prepared the Jules Morin rink for the Ottawa East Winter Classic hockey tournament. For the past five years, he has used vacation and unpaid leave days—dedicating thousands of hours—to help build and maintain the rink to help create a safe place for his community to have fun.
Surrounded by an audience of more than 100 people at the Museum of Nature on June 14, United Way Ottawa surprised Steve with a Community Builder Award. These awards highlight the contributions of incredible volunteers in our community.
“Our awards recognize people who work tirelessly, passionately and collaboratively to make Ottawa a better place in which to live, work and raise a family,” said United Way Ottawa’s Chief Executive Officer and President, Michael Allen. “In other words, the person we are celebrating today has demonstrated a local love for our city that has not gone unnoticed.”
Michael described Steve as someone who is bright, challenges the status quo, and is admired and appreciated by his colleagues. This was illustrated by the thunderous applause, cheers, and smiles he received when called up on stage to receive his award.
“That’s my day job,” Steve said with a laugh, while pointing to a picture of him bundled up and tending to the outdoor rink.
While holding up his award, Steve thanked his colleagues and those who he has worked for over the years.
“Because of [them], I’m able to take that time off and contribute a little bit to the community,” Steve said. “This is quite overwhelming and quite a shock.”
Through his dedication to creating and maintaining community spaces, Steve also inspired a new generation to value them as well. According to Michael, Steve’s young son and many other local youth help care for the rink while learning important life skills.
Steve was also celebrated as part of June’s National Public Service Week.
After joining the federal government 15 years ago, he has made significant contributions with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency through his work in Greenhouse Gas Analysis and Environmental Assessment Review. Steve also went above and beyond in his role as Senior Policy Advisor, winning the President’s Award in 2012.
A long-time supporter of United Way, Steve has helped make engaging and successful campaigns within the Government of Canada Workplace Charitable Campaign.
It is evident, according to Michael, that Steve exemplifies what is written on the United Way Ottawa Community Builder Award plaque: “Helping to build a stronger, healthier and safer community for all of us.”
With his name being added to the Community Builder Wall of Inspiration at City Hall for his incredible contributions, Steve will now be permanently recognized for his role as a community builder.
— Michael Allen (@UW_Michael) June 14, 2019
Through research, evaluation and partnerships with community experts, United Way Ottawa identifies the root causes of the biggest social challenges facing our community, and helps find solutions that change tens of thousands of lives for the better. 100 per cent of donations stay in Ottawa to help those most in need.