In the 23 years since he arrived in Ottawa as a refugee, Mohamed Sofa, now 37 years old, has helped initiate and implement dozens of community projects, helped create an environment for small businesses to grow and thrive in his community.

For Mohamed, working for his community through is his life’s work.

So it came as no surprise to his friends and family when the Somali-born community activist and community builder was awarded the Mayor’s City Builder Award in 2011. He began volunteering and helping neighborhood youth at an early age while living at Britannia Woods and remains a strong role model for youth in the west end of Ottawa.

Mohamed was also a chairperson of and helped to establish in 2003 the Somali Youth Basketball League (SYBL), a non-profit organization which aims to provide an affordable venue to help youth and young adults, especially those considered to be at risk, develop leadership, social and basketball skills and become more confident. The league served more than 200 youth from across the city.

Mohamed is one of the founders of Young Somali Professionals of North America-Ottawa Branch which provides networking opportunities and creates social and business community enhancement projects.

The married father of two has been the Executive Director of Britannia Woods Community House. That is not enough for Mohamed, also serving as a board member at the Catholic Immigration Centre.

The Mayor’s City Builder Award is a civic honour created by Mayor Watson 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.