Share, inspire, and celebrate by nominating an organization or individual for the 2020 Pillar Community Innovation Awards.

London and the surrounding counties are full of nonprofit organizations, social enterprises, and individuals who are working to make our community a better place. For 14 years, Pillar Nonprofit Network has recognized and celebrated the hard work and contributions of Londoners through their annual Community Innovation Awards

This year, community is top-of-mind more than ever, with the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizations and individuals are stepping up to help one another get through these uncertain times. 

“We are in uncharted territory and yet the community is coming together in collective ways to care for one another and navigate this together. This is a moment to pause and recognize all those in our community who are demonstrating the values of innovation, leadership, impact, and collaboration,” says Michelle Baldwin, Executive Director of Pillar Nonprofit Network. “The Pillar Community Innovation Awards always fills my heart and my mind with new ideas and inspiration. Now more than ever we have an opportunity to chart a new path forward to a better community for all.”

There are five categories for the annual awards Innovation, Leadership, Impact, Collaboration and Community Choice — each celebrating a different aspect of the individuals, organizations, and enterprises that are making a positive impact. New for 2020, organizations and individuals in Elgin, Middlesex, and Oxford counties will be eligible for the Community Innovation Awards, making the awards a truly regional celebration. 

A Transformative Experience

For Amber Irvine, co-founder of 519Pursuit, an organization that works to alleviate homelessness, receiving the Community Choice Award in 2019 was unexpected. “Understanding that we were sharing a room with so many individuals that play vital roles in the community, we were caught by surprise.”

Moreover, Irvine was grateful for the chance to share their work. “Winning the PCIA Community Choice Award gave us the opportunity to use our voices to echo our mission louder.” The impact of receiving an award is felt long after the ceremony is over. For 519Pursuit, the Community Choice Award marked a new chapter for those involved. “Following the awards, we were showered with an overwhelming amount of love and support,” says Irvine. “Our social media handles received more traffic allowing our storytelling to be magnified and, in turn, creating a greater avenue in which we amplified our storage locker donation days. Donations outpoured from the community in many different ways, whether it was material or monetary, our cups were overflowing.” 

In addition, the ceremony itself meant a great deal to those they help. “Having friends in the room who wouldn’t go home following the awards but instead to the street and seeing their strength applauded was ever-changing,” said Irvine. “London has a network of humans who care, and being recognized within the community reinforced this and gave us strength and inspiration to keep moving forward.”

Highlighting Stories That Make a Difference

Nokee Kwe’s Danielle Hill agrees that the event provides a supportive atmosphere for those who attend. Nokee Kwe’s +Positive Voice program received the Community Innovation Award in 2017. “Our +Positive Voice community was beyond grateful for receiving the PCIA. A few of us were honoured to attend the Pillar Awards that year, and it was an incredible feeling that our stories make a difference. Our voices are valued, and heard,” Hill recalled.

+Positive Voice provides digital media, storytelling, and other professional development training and support to urban Indigenous women. The award affirmed the program’s mission for both program coordinators and participants. “Receiving the PCIA for +Positive Voice was a recognition from our London community that this program is a game-changer,” Hill said. “It was a great opportunity to see our program valued by the London community. It was validation that +Positive Voice is a great program that helps change lives and helps Indigenous womyn find or amplify their voice.”

To help inspire you to submit a nomination for the 2020 awards, read below to learn more about a recipient from each of the categories from the past few years.

Community Innovation Award: +Positive Voice at Nokee Kwe (2017)

Established in 2016, Nokee Kwe’s +Positive Voice program provides support and a safe space for urban indigenous women. The program offers a seven-week course where participants work to overcome trauma, develop confidence, and explore educational or employment opportunities. The program encourages participants to transform their personal narrative and develop positive community connections. 

The +Positive Voice program at Nokee Kwe was the recipient of the Pillar Community Innovation Award in 2017. Learn more about Nokee Kwe’s +Positive Voice program here.

Community Leadership Award: Mustfah Madlol (2018)

When Mustfah Madlol completed grade 11, he had already contributed over 800 hours of volunteer service to his community. The Boys and Girls Club of London nominated him for the Pillar Community Leadership Award. He began volunteering in grade four, sparking a passion for volunteering that continued past high school’s required 40 hours. In addition, he volunteered with the Cross Cultural Learner Centre, London Youth United Council, and Thames Valley District School Board.

Mustfah Madlol was the recipient of the Pillar Community Leadership Award in 2018. Learn more about Mustfah here

Community Impact Award: Pride London Festival (2015)

Pride London Festival has grown from a small picnic in a park to a ten-day festival with over 30 events. As a community-based volunteer-led initiative, Pride London Festival has been able to bring together diverse groups all devoted to celebrating London’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, and two-­spirited people community, as well as their allies, through events and activities that promote unity, inclusion, and awareness of sexual and gender diversity. Their events focus on education and advocacy, all the while fostering a diverse and inclusive community. 


Pride London Festival was the recipient of the Pillar Community Impact Award in 2015. Learn more about Pride London Festival here

Community Collaboration Award: London CAReS (2014)

London CAReS Homeless Response Services is a housing-first intervention aimed at individuals experiencing chronic homelessness. They help people who are experiencing homelessness to find belonging in their own home and community. Their Street Outreach program is fully operational 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Supported by the City of London and the United Way Elgin-Middlesex, London CAReS’ collaborative partners include Addiction Services of Thames Valley, Regional HIV/AIDS Connection, and the Unity Project for Relief of Homelessness in London. 

London CAReS was the recipient of the Pillar Community Collaboration Award in 2014. Learn more about London CAReS Homeless Response Services here

Community Choice Award: 519Pursuit (2019)

519Pursuit is a community-led nonprofit organization. They work to alleviate poverty and homelessness by providing resources and support to some of London’s most vulnerable populations. They use a friendship-based approach to their grassroots services that believes in meeting people on their terms. Their programs include the provision of care packages, an annual 519 sock pledge, and clothing recycling. 

519Pursuit was the recipient of the Community Choice Award as well as a Community Innovation Award Finalist in 2019. Learn more about 519Pursuit here

Nominations for the 2020 Pillar Community Innovation Awards are open until 5 pm on Monday, June 8, 2020. 

Read the guidelines and complete your nomination here.

This post has been powered by Pillar Nonprofit Network. Pillar Nonprofit Network strengthens individuals, organizations and enterprises invested in positive community impact.  

Feature photo courtesy of Pillar Nonprofit Network.

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