Sidra Treehouse volunteers recognized with prestigious award

Sidra Treehouse volunteers recognized with prestigious award

OTTAWA, Ont.—We are very pleased to announce that Sidra Treehouse and the United Muslim Organizations of Ottawa-Gatineau (UMO-OG) were the latest recipients of the Ottawa Public Library’s (OPL) Order of Friendship award. 

The prestigious award is bestowed by the OPL’s Board of Trustees and recognizes outstanding volunteer contributions by individuals, groups or associations that improve the OPL’s ability to deliver services and programming to the community.

In July 2020, we moved our mentoring program to an exclusively online environment as a way to connect with our Sidra children and families during the COVID-19 pandemic. In an effort to keep the summer spirit alive, our volunteers prepared and delivered packages and hosted a series of online sessions to engage our Sidra kids in a mix of fun learning activities. 

We collaborated with the UMO-OG and partnered with the OPL to deliver Summer Reading Club Make-It-Kits to vulnerable children aged 6 to 12. The UMO-OG and their vast network of volunteers helped deliver kits to 200 children from vulnerable families across the city. 

“We were pleasantly surprised when the Ottawa Public Library reached out and told us we won the Order of Friendship award. We quietly work away at our mission to help the most vulnerable of our community, so it’s nice to see that we’re being recognized” said Momin Janjua, co-director of Sidra Treehouse. 

“Many of the Sidra Treehouse volunteers have also been working with the UMO-OG’s COVID-19 Relief effort, so we had already built a good volunteer system and connections to vulnerable families across the city.” 

OPL staff presenting the award to Soumaya Marhnouj, Mariam Aly and the UMO-OG chair Jalil Marhnouj.
OPL staff presenting the award to Soumaya Marhnouj, Mariam Aly and the UMO-OG chair Jalil Marhnouj.

“This summer, the kids couldn’t go out to the libraries so this was a chance for us to do fun activities and bring reading to them. We even added school supplies to the kits to help get the kids ready for school in September,” said Soumaya Marhnouj, a member of the Sidra team who has also been leading UMO-OG’s COVID-19 task force. 

Marhnouj feels that kids were hit the hardest with school being shifted online and many summer programs being cancelled. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had an effect on everyone, and we hope that through this project, we were able to provide a smile and a semblance of normality,” she said.

We hope to continue building on this work to support vulnerable children across our city and to minimize the impact of the pandemic. Stay tuned for more Sidra programs coming in the new year. 

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