While COVID-19 has changed the ways we gather, celebrate, and honour one another, it has not changed the way our communities step up to support each other in times of crisis. From making essential grocery trips for immunocompromised neighbours to conducting wellness phone call checks for seniors or even helping newcomer families access the support services they need, volunteers have come together when we need them the most.
Early in the summer of 2020, in collaboration with Apt613, United Way East Ontario 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.
With our host and former Community Builder Award recipient Davy Sabourin, we were joined by our friends at Capital Pride for a very special edition of our Community Builder Awards, recognizing five more incredible community builders who have worked tirelessly to make our communities safer, healthier, and more accepting for the 2SLGBTQ+ community. These people are community leaders, fearless advocates, and supporters of the Queer community, and have stepped up and demonstrated a local love that has not gone unnoticed.
We thank everyone who took the time to nominate these everyday heroes and we thank you, community builders, for your exceptional contributions.
Read below for a post on Community Builders Kayla and Jenna Spagnoli, and check out our other Community Builder posts here.
Kayla and Jenna Spagnoli
Kayla and Jenna Spagnoli are local community builders, more formally known as The Feminist Twins. They work to share resources, information, and promote community collaboration. At first, the twins did this work virtually through social media, but with the support of their community they were able to pivot to creating in-person events and welcoming spaces for BIPOC, 2SLGBTQ+ peoples, the Indigenous community, and other marginalized groups in our region.
You likely know the Feminist Twins from some of their accessible and progressive events like the annual Feminist Fairs, their Non-Heteronormative Valentine’s Craft Nights, card or poster-making nights with local advocacy groups like the Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women (OCTEVAW) and the Ottawa Women’s March, or their sober dance parties and networking workshops.
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jenna and Kayla collaborated with their community to create the Pride, Not Prejudice Fair—a recurring virtual craft and community fair for the socially conscious. The fair prioritizes marginalized and progressive creators, highlights community resources, and aims to build community through the sharing of art, supporting artists, and dissemination of resources.
Back in January of 2021, Jenna and Kayla decided to take a step away from the Feminist Twins, and held one final virtual hangout—in spirit of International Women’s Day—focused on centering community care and honouring feminist organizing in and around our region. While the Feminist Twins collective may no longer exist, the impact of Kayla and Jenna’s work will continue to inspire and uplift advocates and activists for years to come.
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. Nominate your Community Builder today!