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Community Builder award recipients Rowan and Avery Parkinson. Photo courtesy of United Way East Ontario.

Community Builders: Meet two of Ottawa’s youngest philanthropists, Avery and Rowan Parkinson

By Apartment613 on March 12, 2021

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This winter, United Way East Ontario announced six new Community Builder Award recipients being honoured for their unwavering support to their communities in these challenging times. Check out the full list of recipients here and read on to learn about recent recipients Avery and Rowan Parkinson.

Avery (16) and Rowan (13) Parkinson 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 11 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.

Avery and Rowan Parkinson, Community Builder award recipients. Photo: United Way East Ontario.

“Ottawa is a great city and we’re really glad that we are able to do what we can to help our community, and we’re so grateful for all the support we’ve received from everyone around us.” –Rowan Parkinson

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.

“There are so many incredible people doing amazing work to help better Eastern Ontario and our community, and we’re very honoured to be recognized alongside such wonderful people and initiatives.” –Avery Parkinson

Each Maple Wishes project demonstrates Avery 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 Wall of Inspiration at Ottawa City Hall, we look forward to adding the names of these community builders in a future ceremony.

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