On March 24, in collaboration with Apt613, we recognized six more incredible community builders. You’ll see three below; the three others will be featured here tomorrow.
2001 Community Builder Award Recipient Suzanne Pinel hosted the presentation and helped us surprise these unsuspecting recipients—people who have worked tirelessly to make our communities safer, healthier, and more resilient when circumstances are strained for every one of us. From making wellness phone call checks on seniors to helping newcomer families access the support services they need, community builders are constantly showing selflessness and care during these unique times.
These recipients are community leaders and fearless advocates who have stepped up and demonstrated a local love that has not gone unnoticed.
Award recipients were chosen for their exceptional contributions to vulnerable communities. They have demonstrated a strong ability to mobilize their communities, going above and beyond their regular volunteerism. They also represent the kind of quiet determination and heroism that inspires others to act—leading by example.
We thank everyone who takes the time to nominate everyday heroes, and we thank you, community builders, for your exceptional contributions.
Hélène Menard is a person of possibilities.
With over 16 years of volunteer work in her repertoire, she’s continuously finding ways to support the professional and personal development of vulnerable populations within Ottawa through advocacy, fundraising, and financial literacy education. Hélène fosters relationships and collaborations among several community organizations so that vulnerable people have the support they need to empower themselves and their families.
In 2012, Hélène noticed a hub of people, organizations, and government agencies who were working toward providing financial health and wellbeing to vulnerable populations. When she looked into it, she realized that they weren’t working together, and were sometimes working against each other.
That’s when Hélène stepped up to the plate and became a founding partner of a collaborative network called Financial Literacy Action Network of Ottawa, or FLANO. They are a collaborative group of organizations committed to helping vulnerable communities gain access to services, financial support, and the benefits they are entitled to.
Under Hélène’s leadership, FLANO became a non-profit incorporated collaborative network. Every task and project starts with members bringing their concerns to the table so that the group can ensure their focus is always on vulnerable communities. If it weren’t for Hélène’s passion for financial literacy and supporting vulnerable populations, FLANO wouldn’t exist.
When we work together, we are stronger, which is something Hélène wholeheartedly believes in. In a space where community organizations are often forced to compete for resources, Hélène recognized the real need was to bring people and initiatives together. Because when you take the competition out of the work, there’s room to focus on collaborative solutions that can make people’s lives better.
In 2021, Hélène was awarded the Recognition of Exemplary Service to the City of Ottawa for all her work in making sure marginalized and vulnerable populations have access to the resources they deserve. She doesn’t do it for fame or glory, and her focus is always on the community’s needs and how she can best serve Ottawa’s vulnerable populations.
Omar Al-Dib advocates and contributes to the Ottawa and Carleton University communities. He has volunteered at numerous organizations around the city and has more than six years of volunteer experience.
Omar is dedicated to engaging youth through team-building efforts, which prompted him to create a philanthropic, student-run organization called CU Smile. Over the years, Omar has implemented over 50 CU Smile initiatives, which have inspired more than 100 youth volunteers to make an impact in Ottawa.
These initiatives include helping with food banks (such as the Sadaqa Food Bank), supporting Canadian Blood Services and Bridging Borders, coordinating clothing drives (such as Operation Share the Warmth) and Operation Lunchbag.
Operation Lunchbag is one of the recurring initiatives in which Omar has participated. It provides students with a platform to prepare and distribute lunch bags to those in need. Students raise funds for a week, then use the money donated to purchase food items and ingredients to make lunch bags for people experiencing homelessness. The cost of one lunch bag is one dollar, so the opportunity to feed five people in need for as little as five dollars got a lot of people interested in helping out.
Omar recognizes the inequalities among various groups within society and aims to bridge the gaps through the programs he leads. Even though he’s graduated from his postsecondary program at Carleton University, Omar continues to involve himself through initiatives like Operation Lunchbag and CU Smile. Omar remains passionate and committed to creating solutions for various communities.
Kelly MacNaull dedicates herself to carrying out her philanthropic vision through her support of many foundations and charities within the province. In pursuit of contributing to her community, Kelly has participated in initiatives for the Canadian Cancer Society, Curling Canada, and the Ottawa Food Bank.
In the Ottawa region, Kelly is known as the event founder and coordinator of Curling for a Cause, an annual charity bonspiel to support local community causes and organizations.
This event consists of 24 teams made up of participants from across the National Capital Region who participate in activities like curling, raffles, silent auctions, and a buffet dinner. Overall, the annual charity bonspiel highlights Kelly’s support for community causes and her passion for the sport.
Since its inception in 2014, Curling for a Cause has raised more than $65,000 for various charities across Ontario, including the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Eastern Ontario, the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, The Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, and the Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health.
Since leaving the private sector in 2018, Kelly has committed to her philanthropic perspective and continues to fundraise for various initiatives. Currently, she is an event manager at the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation.
Kelly’s unwavering generosity and interest in community welfare have fuelled her support of initiatives that reach people across Ontario, bringing various communities together.
Do you know a volunteer who has gone above and beyond to support their community? Our Community Builder Awards program accepts nominations year-round! Nominate a Community Builder today.