Divya Massilamani, outstanding youth volunteer, receives Mayor’s City Builder Award
Mayor Jim Watson and Innes Ward Councillor Jody Mitic presented the Mayor’s City Builder Award to Divya Massilamani at today’s City Council meeting.
Ms. Massilamani is currently a third-year Bachelor of Science student at the University of Ottawa. She has known for most of her life that she wants to be a physician, but her volunteer work with children at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) in the Oncology and Hematology department since 2011 has inspired her to work towards becoming a pediatrician specializing in oncology.
Her wide-ranging volunteer work includes:
- Assisting residents of the Leisureworld Caregiving Centre Madonna long-term care community in Orléans with activities, meals and transportation
- Helping young patients in the Oncology and Hematology unit at CHEO
- Helping children with special needs at the Ottawa Children’s Treatment Centre preschool and summer school programs
- Offering her help as an English as a Second Language (ESL) tutor to students at Carine Wilson Secondary School through the Literacy Partners program, specifically helping high-school students to prepare for the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test, a requirement for graduation
- At UOttawa, working as the treasurer of the World Vision Club and the treasurer/secretary of The Abhiladasha Project, both non-profit associations that help families and children. World Vision battles poverty, while the Abhiladasha Project helps provide education to children with special needs. She also volunteers at the Piano Pedagogy Research Laboratory.
She has received many awards for her hard work, dedication and hundreds of hours of volunteering. Notably, last year she received the United Way Community Builder Award for her work with older adults at the Leisureworld Caregiving Centre Madonna, and her name has recently been added to the United Way Wall of Inspiration at City Hall. She also received the 2015 Hospital Auxiliary Association of Ontario Student Award for her service at CHEO.
Al and Betty Arseneault, Crystal Beach–Lakeview outdoor rink volunteers, receive Mayor’s City Builder Award
Mayor Jim Watson and Bay Ward Councillor Mark Taylor presented the Mayor’s City Builder Award to Al and Betty Arseneault at today’s City Council meeting.
The Arseneaults are longtime residents of Crystal Beach-Lakeview. Their love of outdoor sports – hockey, skating and curling in particular – fondness for their neighbourhood, and enthusiasm for building community come together in their commitment as volunteers, working with the City’s Seasonal Recreation branch, to construct, create and maintain an outdoor arena and separate three-sheet curling rink in Lakeview Park each winter.
Al is well known as the first volunteer rink operator in the city to get his boards in place, the first to coax skate-worthy ice out of an early cold snap, the most meticulous at maintaining the ice (it’s near NHL quality), and very quick to clear any snowfall. This means the retired public servant has to make himself available 24/7 during the outdoor skating season to flood and groom the ice, sometimes trucking loads of Zamboni ice shavings from nearly indoor arenas to fill in spots after a melt. Al also helps the Seasonal Recreation staff to train and coach new rink volunteers each fall at the start of the winter season.
The curling rink has three full-size sheets with all the correct markings, and the Arseneaults host an annual Lakeview Outdoor Bonspiel that is always fully booked with enthusiastic curlers from all over the Ottawa Valley. Local indoor curling clubs lend the rocks for curling events.
Thanks to Al and Betty, Crystal Beach-Lakeview and area residents, from young kids wobbling on their first pair of skates to seniors enjoying a game of shinny, are fortunate enough to have free high-quality winter recreation opportunities at their local park.
The Mayor’s City Builder Award is a civic honour created to recognize an individual, group or organization that has, through outstanding volunteerism or exemplary action, demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to making our city a better place today and for the future. This may include lifelong service, outstanding acts of kindness, inspiring charitable work, community building or other exemplary achievements.
Individuals, groups or organizations may be nominated by members of City Council or the public.
The award is presented at the beginning of each City Council meeting.
Donna Gray receives Mayor’s City Builder Award
Mayor Jim Watson and Somerset Ward Councillor Catherine McKenney presented the Mayor’s City Builder Award to Donna Gray at today’s City Council meeting. Donna was recognized for her community-building efforts in the Rochester Heights community of Ottawa Community Housing (OCH).
A resident of Rochester Heights for the past seven years, Donna is a vital connector and resource to fellow residents, helping them to locate and navigate all kinds of supports – from public transit to household furnishings to access to fresh, affordable food. She is a community leader who nurtures friendship, dignity, and a sense of belonging and being respected.
In 2010, she was a driving force in a community-wide effort to build two new play structures for the families of Rochester Heights. With her help the community raised $33,000 and built the play areas and structures together.
She was also instrumental in neighbourhood revitalization projects such as repaving the basketball courts and applying for OCH community capital grants used to install picnic tables and flower planters at every unit.
Donna works for the Somerset West Community Health Centre and is the coordinator of Good Food Markets, which improves access to healthy foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables in low-income communities. When Good Food Markets were piloted in 2012, Donna carried out the initial needs assessment, insuring a strong foundation for the project and the best possible service for families.
She recruits volunteers for each market day, building community and offering job experience to community members. She continues to advocate for more funding for Good Food Markets to increase food security for low-income families.
Tysen Lefebvre receives Mayor’s City Builder Award
March 23rd, 2016 – Mayor Jim Watson and Stittsville Ward Councillor Shad Qadri presented a Mayor’s City Builder Award to Tysen Lefebvre at today’s City Council meeting. The 15-year-old youth was recognized for his tireless and enthusiastic work to raise funds for Make-a-Wish Eastern Ontario to make big wishes come true for children with life-threatening illnesses.
In November 2012, Tysen had his own wish granted: to fly to Los Angeles to meet his hero, actor Adam Sandler, who does extensive philanthropic work while filming movies and raising his family. The actor’s generosity and hard work inspired Tysen to launch Mission to a Million the next year, an ongoing fundraising project to raise $1 million for Make-a-Wish so 100 local kids can have their wishes come true.
This was a lofty goal for Tysen, who has Pfeiffer Syndrome Type 2, a rare genetic disorder that affects the skull, facial features and limbs. He had his first operation when he was nine days old and, by the time he was three, he had spent more than half of his life in hospital. He has more surgeries in his future, but he is always planning and working on how he can make life better for others.
Tysen has a website (missiontoamillion.ca) and a Facebook page devoted to the campaign, but it is the time he puts into being the face and voice of Mission to a Million that has made it a remarkable success. To date he has inspired businesses, schools, children’s groups, philanthropic organizations and individuals to raise more than $360,000, and on March 14 he was on hand for the presentation of the 46th wish of the campaign. He says every time the funds raised by Mission to a Million grant a wish, it feels like having his own wish granted again.
Elizabeth Dessureault receives Mayor’s City Builder Award
February 24, 2016 – Mayor Jim Watson and Kitchissippi Ward Councillor Jeff Leiper presented a Mayor’s City Builder Award to Elizabeth Dessureault at today’s City Council meeting. She was recognized for her contributions to lung cancer awareness, research, treatment and patient advocacy.
In April 2015, Elizabeth, a lifelong non-smoker, was diagnosed with stage IIIB (late stage) lung cancer. She was 25 and five months pregnant for her first child. She was told her cancer was incurable and she was given a year at most to live.
As a teacher, newlywed (to Dax Dessureault, an RCMP officer) and mother-to-be, she refused to accept the prognosis and had her tissue sent to the United States for genetic testing. The tests revealed a rare genetic mutation called ROS-1, which meant her tumour could be treated with a pill.
She also intensively researched lung cancer and found that, while it is the most frequent killer among cancers, the stigma attached to lung cancer as a smoker’s disease means a disproportionately low share of cancer research funding is allocated to it. She decided to become an advocate for lung cancer awareness and to do all she can to change the image, and the conversation, around lung cancer.
She offered her services as a spokesperson and fundraiser to Lung Cancer Canada and Team Draft, a lung cancer awareness, research and advocacy organization in the States founded in 2011 by NFL player Chris Draft and his late wife Keasha. Elizabeth’s central message is “If you have lungs, you can get lung cancer”.
She raised funds for lung cancer awareness last fall by designing and manufacturing white leather “Just Breathe” bracelets, which raised over $10,000 during November and December for Lung Cancer Canada, Team Draft, and the Ottawa General Hospital to help fund their planned Molecular Oncology Diagnostics Laboratory. Having a laboratory in Ottawa will help make genetic profiling of tumours a standard part of medical care, allowing physicians to determine which medications will work best for a particular patient.
She blogs about her battle with cancer at fromlizzieslungs.wordpress.com.
Mayor’s City Builder Award – Bruce Brayman
Mayor Jim Watson and Osgoode Ward Councillor George Darouze presented a Mayor’s City Builder Award to Bruce Brayman at today’s City Council meeting. He was recognized for his contributions, through generous ongoing volunteering and inspiring leadership, to the quality of life of Greely residents.
He and his family moved to Greely in 2006, and six months later he joined the Greely Community Association (GCA) as its secretary. He has also served as the GCA vice-president and has been the association president for five years. He works tirelessly to make Greely an attractive place for families and seniors to live.
Volunteering is a family affair for Bruce and Linda Brayman and their children. Bruce, with the help of his family, the GCA and other Greely residents, has been instrumental in beautifying parks, ensuring there is a community outdoor rink in winter, and planning, organizing and recruiting volunteers for the community Canada Day and Winter Carnival celebrations.
He is also a founding member of the Greely Business Association, and he manages the Greely Seniors Walking Club. He works with the community’s Councillor, George Darouze, City of Ottawa standing committees, 17 home owners’ associations and various other organizations to optimize all that Greely has to offer.
Mayor’s City Builder Award – Pamela Tourigny
Mayor Jim Watson and Capital Ward Councillor David Chernushenko presented a Mayor’s City Builder Award to Pamela Tourigny at today’s City Council meeting, recognizing her contributions to animal welfare and to the vegan and vegetarian communities in Ottawa.
On her Huffington Post blog, Pamela describes herself as a “community builder, writer, vegan, mindful consumer, wannabe athlete, feminist, dog foster mom, seeker of truth and promoter of kindness.”
Pamela is passionate about animal welfare and animal rights, and her dedication to this cause translates into volunteering, advocacy, community-building and blogging.
She fosters dogs for Sit With Me and cares for orphaned baby squirrels for the Rideau Valley Sanctuary.
A gifted and skilled connector, Pamela builds and leverages relationships to benefit the health, wellness and sustainability of the community, with particular focus on vegan and vegetarian lifestyles. She has volunteered thousands of hours to support vegetarian and wellness advocates and organizations, building relationships with and between seasoned volunteers and mentoring new ones.
She was the founding president, in 2007, of the National Capital Vegetarian Association and served on that organization’s board up to last year. She co-founded Ottawa VegFest in 2009 and continues to volunteer to support the annual event.
She blogs about vegetarian, vegan, health, wellness, fitness and sustainability issues at pamelatourigny.com and at huffingtonpost.ca/pamela-tourigny.
Mayor’s City Builder Award – Marie McIntosh
Mayor Jim Watson and Capital Ward Councillor David Chernushenko presented the Mayor’s City Builder Award today to Marie McIntosh, recognizing more than 15 years of volunteer work improving the quality of life of seniors living at Clementine Towers, advocating for seniors residing in Ottawa Community Housing (OCH), and helping to raise funds for disaster relief around the world.
Marie, who is 88 years young, moved to the 258-unit Clementine Towers seniors apartment building in Alta Vista, operated by OCH, in 1999. The next year she became the president of the building’s social club and tenant association, a volunteer position she’s held ever since.
With her enthusiastic and energetic leadership, the tenant association has organized hundreds of social events over the past 15 years including card playing, bingo, exercise classes, knitting groups, teas, dinner-dances, and fundraisers to help victims of natural disasters in various countries. The social and fundraising events are important to keeping seniors in the independent-living apartments physically active and engaged, warding off loneliness and isolation.
In 2010, the Clementine Towers tenant association won an Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association Tenant Achievement Recognition Award for raising $1,500 for Doctors Without Borders to help earthquake victims in Haiti.
Mayor’s City Builder Award – Louis V. Patry
Mayor Jim Watson and Innes Ward Councillor Jody Mitic presented the Mayor’s City Builder Award today to Louis V. Patry, recognizing more than 35 years of volunteer work in preserving and promoting the history and heritage of Orléans.
Louis is a co-founder of the Mouvement d’implication francophone d’Orléans (MIFO) in 1979, and la Société franco-ontarienne du patrimoine et de l’histoire d’Orléans (SFOPHO) in 2008. Over the years he has led many committees and contributed his expertise in the Francophone history and culture of Orléans to dozens of organizations and projects. Some of his notable achievements:
In 1968, he was the first bilingualism policy advisor to the Office of the Auditor General of Canada.
The first French cultural shows offered by MIFO in the early 1980s were organized by Louis and his team of volunteers. The popular program continues today at the Shenkman Arts Centre, with more than 8,000 tickets sold in 2014.
In 2011, he created and served as the chair of the Comité pour l’amélioration de la place des noms francophones d’Orléans (CAPNFO), a SFOPHO committee that raised awareness about the importance of using French accents on French words in names and titles of public places, notably the accent on the “é” in Orléans.
As a member of the Mayor’s working group to update the City’s Commemorative Naming Policy in 2011-2012, he researched and wrote a paper on commemorative naming policies of various provinces and major cities.
At the request of the Gloucester Historical Society, he wrote a history of Orléans, which is available on the SFOPHO website in both languages.
Louis’s contributions have helped make the SFOPHO a vibrant and active organization dedicated to preserving and promoting the Francophone heritage of Orléans and Ottawa. As the SFOPHO is the only Francophone historical society in the Ottawa region, it is often called upon to represent the French-speaking community of Ottawa with regard to heritage.
Mayor’s City Builder Award – Helen Synek
Mayor Jim Watson and River Ward Councillor Riley Brockington presented the Mayor’s City Builder Award today to Helen Synek, recognizing her 30 years of volunteer work at the Caldwell Family Centre in Carlington.
In 1954, Helen left school in Youghal, Ireland, at 14 to start helping to support her family by working in a textile factory. She immigrated to Ottawa when she was 20. She has never forgotten her blue-collar roots and the loneliness of moving to a much bigger city so far from home. Her upbringing, and the challenges of living in a new country, helped her to make friends easily and to be empathetic to the people who seek essential social services as well as companionship at the Caldwell Family Centre.
She continues to work in the day program at the centre most of the day, but also helps with the neighbourhood food bank and the seniors’ drop-in program. At almost 75 she has no plans to retire, preferring to stay busy and active helping the hundreds of people who come to the centre, whom she embraces as friends.
The Caldwell Family Centre recently presented a 30-year service award to Helen. She told a reporter from the Ottawa Citizen: “The best part of the job is seeing the people every day and to try to make them feel important…and not use them to make yourself feel better.”