Jennifer Cook Baniczky receives Mayor’s City Builder Award

Ottawa – Mayor Jim Watson and Rideau-Rockcliffe Ward Councillor Rawlson King presented the Mayor’s City Builder Award to Jennifer Cook Baniczky at the start of the City Council meeting today, in honour of her outstanding volunteerism and philanthropy.

Ms. Cook Baniczky has been volunteering with the Shepherds of Good Hope for more than 35 years. She is known for her warmth, her steady demeanor, and her steadfast commitment to supporting some of Ottawa’s most vulnerable people. Her decades of acting as the Coordinator of Volunteers earned her the Shepherds of Good Hope’s “Calmer of Storms” award.

In 2015, Ms. Cook Baniczky participated in a neighbourhood group that sponsored a refugee family from Syria and helped them to settle in Ottawa. She is also a member of the Writers Union of Canada and has published several books for children and young adults. She has also donated her time reading to children at her local school and helped to build a library in West Africa.  Additionally, Ms. Cook Baniczky is very involved with the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign raising funds for sub-Saharan grandmothers bringing up their AIDS-orphaned grandchildren.

The Mayor’s City Builder Award is a civic honour, created to recognize an individual, group or organization that, through outstanding volunteerism or exemplary action, has 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.


Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ottawa receives Mayor’s City Builder Award

Ottawa – Mayor Jim Watson and Knoxdale-Merivale Ward Councillor Keith Egli presented the Mayor’s City Builder Award to Susan Ingram, Executive Director, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ottawa at the start of the City Council meeting today, in recognition of the organization’s commitment to making our city a better place through volunteerism and exemplary action.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ottawa is celebrating their 50th anniversary in 2020 and the organization has had a positive impact on the lives of many Ottawa children and their big brothers and sisters. Annually, more than 1,000 big brothers and big sisters help 1,100 children who need a special friend.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ottawa offers safe, quality programs that help children realize their potential, gain confidence and become future leaders. The organization brings people together through strong one-on-one relationships and uses mentoring to enrich the lives of everyone involved.

The Mayor’s City Builder Award is a civic honour, created to recognize an individual, group or organization that, through outstanding volunteerism or exemplary action, has 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.


Betty Hope-Gittens receives Mayor’s City Builder Award

Ottawa – Mayor Jim Watson and River Ward Councillor Riley Brockington presented the Mayor’s City Builder Award to Betty Hope-Gittens at the start of the City Council meeting today, in honour of her of outstanding volunteerism and philanthropy.

Ms. Hope-Gittens has been giving back to her community for 35 years, through her church and through various fundraising and volunteer efforts. Ms. Hope-Gittens has been an avid walker for most of her life. This year, at 80 years old, she decided to channel both her physical and spiritual practices into fundraising.

This spring, Ms. Hope-Gittens walked the 800 km-kilometre Camino de Santiago trail in Spain to raise $130,000 for the Eldercare Foundation. She sought to raise $10,000 for each of the 13 not-for-profit, long-term care facilities in Ottawa that the Eldercare Foundation has been supporting for more than a decade. In the end, she raised more than $200,000 and was able to donate some of those funds to a long-term care facility in her home country of Barbados.

Ms. Hope-Gittens is a board member of the Eldercare Foundation, and is a former director of Ethiopiaid Canada. She has worked with Help the Aged and is a fundraising co-chair for the Ottawa Hospital’s Shirley E. Greenberg Women’s Health Centre.

The Mayor’s City Builder Award is a civic honour, created to recognize an individual, group or organization that, through outstanding volunteerism or exemplary action, has 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.


Kim Steele receives Mayor’s City Builder Award

Ottawa – Mayor Jim Watson and West Carleton-March Ward Councillor Eli El-Chantiry presented the Mayor’s City Builder Award to Kim Steele at the start of the City Council meeting today, in honour of her outstanding volunteerism.

Ms. Steele has been offering free fitness classes at the Corkery Community Centre since 2006. Her three weekly classes have expanded access to fitness programming in rural Ottawa. Her classes have also become an avenue for collecting food for new mothers and cards for residents who are sick or in need.

Ms. Steele’s warmth and generosity model the best of community leadership. Participants in her classes are mostly women, but entire families, including teenagers and seniors, and people of all fitness levels also attend. In addition to promoting health and fitness, Ms. Steele brings people together, offering an opportunity for participants to forge special bonds that would not otherwise exist.

The Mayor’s City Builder Award is a civic honour, created to recognize an individual, group or organization that, through outstanding volunteerism or exemplary action, has 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.


Dr. Mohd Jamal Alsharif received Mayor’s City Builder Award

Mayor Jim Watson and Gloucester-South Nepean Ward Councillor Carol Anne Meehan presented the Mayor’s City Builder Award to Dr. Mohd Jamal Alsharif at the start of the City Council meeting today.

Dr. Alsharif was honoured for his outstanding volunteerism, for his work with refugees in Ottawa and for his service to the community. His longstanding commitment to volunteerism is emblematic of the achievements the Mayor’s City Builder Award was designed to celebrate.

Dr. Alsharif is the founder and president of the local non-profit Humans for Peace Institution, an organization that seeks an end to wars around the globe. He is widely recognized for embracing Canada’s multiculturalism, and supporting Ottawa’s multicultural communities.

As an immigrant to Canada, he has helped fellow newcomers establish themselves and feel welcome, and he has dedicated himself to helping children from war-torn countries with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Dr. Alsharif has been very active, working with a group of mostly Syrian refugees in Ottawa. His Children for Peace initiative with Syrian refugee children, for example, has created and sold paintings to raise money for the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO).

His other contributions include volunteering yearly for the Terry Fox Run, the Army Run, Zombie Run for Humanity, the Ottawa Run for Palestine, the Community Soccer Cup and the Shepherds of Good Hope, as well as several other community events and activities.

For his outstanding record of community service, Dr. Alsharif was recently recognized as one of the RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Award winners of 2019.

The Mayor’s City Builder Award is a civic honour, created to recognize an individual, group or organization that, through outstanding volunteerism or exemplary action, has 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.


Moses Abayomi Pratt and Kelly Dikeledi Pratt receive Mayor’s City Builder Award

Mayor Jim Watson, Orléans Ward Councillor Matthew Luloff and Cumberland Ward Councillor Stephen Blais presented the Mayor’s City Builder Award to Moses Abayomi Pratt and Kelly Dikeledi Pratt for their years of service to Ottawa’s black community.

Ten years ago, Moses and Kelly established Ottawa’s Global Community Alliance’s annual Black History Month gala. The gala celebrates diversity in Ottawa by honouring leaders and trailblazers in Ottawa’s black community. By donating its proceeds to other causes such as the Ottawa School Breakfast Program or Ottawa Black History, the gala provides key additional support in Ottawa’s multicultural communities.

Moses Pratt is a founding member of the Nigerian Canadian Association and Isokan Yoruba, a Nigerian cultural and heritage group. He has also been a school teacher for nearly thirty years.

The Mayor’s City Builder Award is a civic honour, created to recognize an individual, group or organization that, through outstanding volunteerism or exemplary action, has 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.


StopGap Ottawa receives Mayor’s City Builder Award

Ottawa – Mayor Jim Watson and Somerset Ward Councillor Catherine McKenney presented the Mayor’s City Builder Award to Chris Binkowski, Christina Johnson and Kenzie McCurdy from StopGap Ottawa at City Council today, in recognition of their efforts to make Ottawa more accessible.

Started in 2015, StopGap Ottawa helps make businesses more accessible by building ramps for their entrances. Members Chris Binkowski, Christina Johnson and Kenzie McCurdy and others, frustrated by the inaccessibility of many local businesses, found the perfect solution to bridge the gap between the sidewalk and the step to enter an establishment: they would build custom colourful wooden ramps and make businesses more accessible and open.

Their first community building project was at Somerset Square. With the help of volunteers, StopGap Ottawa built eight ramps in one night. In partnership with the Ottawa Tool Library, they have built many more ramps over the past several years. They receive regular requests for ramps from local businesses and they are committed to creating a city where every person can access every space.

The Mayor’s City Builder Award is a civic honour, created to recognize an individual, group or organization that, through outstanding volunteerism or exemplary action, has 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.