In August, United Way East Ontario announced eight 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 recipient Sylvain de Margerie.
Sylvain de Margerie has volunteered in his community for more than 10 years and is a relentless advocate for his community. Back in 2018, Sylvain approached the Carlington Community Health Centre for his idea to create an internet cafe at the Bellevue Community Centre, to foster community cohesion and provide internet services for local youth and families.
The café also provides community members with a space to seek employment opportunities and training as well as free healthy snacks, all prepared by volunteers. After almost a year of operation, the café has proven successful among community members, volunteers, and staff alike, and efforts are now underway to keep it running.
When COVID-19 hit, Sylvain knew the cafe had to close, but he still wanted to find a way to help. Sylvain and his team were able to re-purpose food used for the Food For Thought cafe to feed residents of the Travelodge Hotel, which housed a number of families requiring shelter services. With the success of this endeavor, Sylvain approached the Ottawa Community Foundation and asked that the funds for the cafe be redirected to support their COVID-19 response, allowing the team to pivot and continue to provide meals for those in need.
Using his existing contacts, Sylvain approached local chefs and restaurateurs and pivoted his previous project to develop a meal program for the most vulnerable. With his team’s support, Sylvain has delivered more than 65,000 hot meals to people in need across the city.
Sylvain and his team have demonstrated their adaptability in the face of crisis in order to serve the city’s most vulnerable. Sylvain says the next step for his team is to create a resilient and enduring service for people that cannot cook—ensuring that his services go well beyond COVID-19.