Citizen Advocacy Ottawa: Changing Lives, documentary


BOTH: (SINGING) He’s got the
whole world in his hands. He’s got the whole world– [LIGHT MUSIC] MIKE MURPHY: It’s a story
that people with disabilities often tell. MARGIE: When I was a little
girl, I was quite lonely. A lot of kids
wouldn’t play with me because they saw my disability. MIKE MURPHY: But
there’s a place where disability doesn’t matter. JOHN: I think you’re the
red-winged blackbird! MIKE MURPHY: A
place that welcomes people of all disabilities. VERN WHITE: It almost makes
you emotional to think about how impressive this is. ADRIAN: That was a
game changer for us. HEATHER LACEY: It’s
just beautiful. It really is. MIKE MURPHY: “Citizen
Advocacy Ottawa– Changing Lives.” My name is Mike Murphy,
and I’m a volunteer with Citizen Advocacy Ottawa. Once a week, I pay a visit
to my friend Joe Donegan. I was matched with Joe
Donegan almost three years ago through Citizen Advocacy,
which brings together volunteers known as advocates
with disabled people. They’re called friends. I’m picking him up
at his apartment. Hi, Joe. JOE: Hi. MIKE MURPHY: How are you today? JOE: Not bad. MIKE MURPHY: Good to see you. JOE: Yeah. Good. MIKE MURPHY: We’re going
to get that haircut. JOE: Yeah. MIKE MURPHY: OK? JOE: Yeah. Yeah. MIKE MURPHY: We need to
trim those golden locks, so to speak. JOE: Yeah. Yeah. MIKE MURPHY: It’s been a while. MIKE MURPHY (VOICEOVER): Joe
is in dire need of a trim, and we’re headed to the
barber shop for a haircut. Joe has several disabilities. Sometimes, I’ll drive Joe
to doctor’s appointments. He was hospitalized
recently for kidney issues. MIKE MURPHY: So
how’s your health? JOE: Doing not too bad. MIKE MURPHY (VOICEOVER):
But this appointment is not about health. It’s about haircuts. MIKE MURPHY: Yeah,
I’m thinking you’re turning into a bit of a hippie. JOE: Well, it’s been a couple
of things that have gone on. The weather hasn’t helped. MIKE MURPHY: Exactly. JOE: Yeah. MIKE MURPHY: Yeah,
just take your time. JOE: Yeah. MIKE MURPHY: We should
be able to make it. JOE: Yeah. MIKE MURPHY: This is Joe. Henry. HENRY: Joe. Hi, nice to meet you. JOE: Yeah. HENRY: [CHUCKLES] JOE: Yeah, I just need a trim. HENRY: Right. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. MIKE MURPHY (VOICEOVER):
As Henry does his magic on Joe’s hair, we catch up on
what’s happening in our lives. We talk sports. The Raptors’ rapid
rise to the NBA title. Pretty much any sport,
especially hockey and baseball. We’re both die-hard fans
of the Toronto Maple Leafs. MIKE MURPHY: So Joe,
we’ve been together, what, about three years now. JOE: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. MIKE MURPHY: How’s
it been for you? JOE: Oh. Pretty good. It’s been really–
it’s been really good. It’s been– we’ve done a
lot of things together. Like go to a hockey
game, and we go to the– we went to baseball games. We’ve gone to that
sandwich place. HENRY: [CHUCKLES] Yeah, you
look like a new man, Joe. JOE: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Thanks a lot. HENRY: You’re welcome. Thank you. JOE: Yeah. HENRY: Mm-hm. JOE: Yeah. HEATHER LACEY: My
name is Heather Lacey, and I’m the executive director– the new executive director for
Citizen Advocacy of Ottawa. MIKE MURPHY: Heather has been
at the helm of Citizen Advocacy for less than a year
after taking over from Brian Tardif, who built
the organization into what it is today. HEATHER LACEY: Citizen Advocacy
has been in the community for 45 years. Actually, 45 years this year. And really, the core program
that started this organization was our matching program. The matching program
takes individuals living with disabilities and
matches them with volunteers, or as we call them, advocates. We’re looking for
volunteers that want to spend a year with
us and commit to that. They go through an
information session. They go through an all-day
on-boarding session. And then after that,
we ask them to make that initial
year-long commitment, with the hope that this
match becomes a friendship and can exist outside of the
organizational structure. So we’ve had matches that
have lasted for 20, sometimes 25 years, 30 years. So– MIKE MURPHY: Lifetime. HEATHER LACEY: Yes. MIKE MURPHY: Longer
than some marriages. HEATHER LACEY: That’s right. Exactly. Absolutely. And that’s a testament
to the program, and what it can achieve. And actually, it’s a testament
to how we match individuals. MIKE MURPHY: “Citizen
Advocacy Ottawa– Changing Lives” will return. [LIGHT MUSIC] [BIRDS CHIRPING] [LIGHT MUSIC] We now return to “Citizen
Advocacy Ottawa– Changing Lives.” Citizen advocacy
has successfully matched thousands of
people over the years. Two of those people
are Adrian and John. They both love nature,
and they’ll often experience it together. Sometimes, they’ll stroll
along the Rideau River near Adrian’s home. JOHN: [MIMICKING BIRD CALLS] MIKE MURPHY: John is blind. Adrian helps him
connect with the sights and sounds of the river. [BIRDS CHIRPING] They’ve been together
since the late ’90s, even before they were matched
through Citizen Advocacy. JOHN: My name is John Robson. MIKE MURPHY: And
how old are you? JOHN: I’m 68 years old. ADRIAN: I’m Adrian Raghunandan. I am 56 years old. Married. MIKE MURPHY: Adrian
says he’s always been drawn to volunteering. He and John quickly found
some common interests. ADRIAN: John had an
interest in learning, and I think that’s kind of the
thing that brought us together, because he had a real
passion, at that time, for learning languages. And also had an
interest in history. But we started off
with languages. And he wanted to study German,
which was a lot of fun. And turned out that
Algonquin offered the course. JOHN: Chinese! ADRIAN: That was fun too, right? [CHUCKLES] JOHN: And American–
took American history about President John F. Kennedy. ADRIAN: Yes. JOHN: John F. Kennedy. MIKE MURPHY: OK. Tell me more about that. JOHN: He was the president
of the United States. And he’s assassinated
56 years ago, Friday, November 22, 1963 at
12:30 PM in downtown Dallas, Texas. ADRIAN: I asked John about
this one in particular. I said, did you actually
listen to the funeral service? And he said, yes, he
did, on the radio. Right, John? JOHN: Yes. ADRIAN: And how old were you? JOHN: 12 years old. ADRIAN: Yeah. And so he listened to the whole
unfolding of the assassination and the events on the radio. And John, where were
you at that time? JOHN: STU. ADRIAN: Which is where? JOHN: [INAUDIBLE] Regional
Centre in the [INAUDIBLE].. ADRIAN: John has a
fascination for electronics, so I’ve taken him
to Best Buy and just let him push buttons as
we go by the television screens, and radios. He just has a lot of fun
with it, yeah, the gadgets. He’s very tech– he
loves technology. When I first met him,
he was always talking about talking alarm clocks, eh? JOHN: Talking alarm clock. ADRIAN: Yeah. And talking watches. JOHN: Talking watch. ADRIAN: Yeah. JOHN: Talking [INAUDIBLE]. ADRIAN: But now you’ve got
the best talking thing. What do you have in your room? JOHN: Alexa! ADRIAN: Yeah. MIKE MURPHY: [CHUCKLES] ADRIAN: And what does she do? JOHN: Talks about the weather
forecast for the next seven days. MIKE MURPHY (VOICEOVER):
Citizen Advocacy has attracted some high-profile
supporters in the nation’s capital, including
Senator Vern White. VERN WHITE: The number of
volunteers who are hand-in-hand with clients in the community
who are often battling developmental delay, or
developmental disabilities, or other– sometimes in combination
with concurrent disabilities, is quite impressive. And I know when I
watch two friends, one who is a client and
one who is a volunteer, engage publicly in a discussion
about what’s important to them, you can see how it’s
a real relationship. It’s not just two people– one person helping another. They’ve actually form a bond. And sometimes, it
goes on for decades. It almost makes you emotional to
think about how impressive this is, that people give up
a part of their lives to connect first of all. But then they bring that
friend into their own life and become another extension
of their family, eh? MIKE MURPHY: Margie
Cunningham, who is paying a visit to her
volunteer advocate, Winn Lambert-Meek, is a big
part of that family. Though small in
stature, Margie has been a huge presence in
Citizen Advocacy for 25 years. WINN: Hey, good morning, Margie. Come on in, it’s cold out there. MARGIE: Yeah, thank you. WINN: You’re welcome. MIKE MURPHY: Wynn has
invited Margie to her home to learn some cooking skills. Margie needs to manage
her diabetes better, so she wants Wynn to teach her
how to prepare healthier foods. MARGIE: I have diabetes
type 2, and so it’s a challenge for me to eat well. I have to walk half
an hour every day to keep the sugar down. I’m watching my sugars. I can’t have any sugar, really. Like candy, cakes,
and cookies, and pies. They’re out of my life. She loves doing the cooking
with me, and I like it too. And it’s giving me
a better life too. I’m eating well, much
better than I used to be. So I really feel I need some
cooking lessons from her. WINN: It’s good for me to
be able to share some things that I like with Margie knowing
that she has a passion for it. MIKE MURPHY: Another
passion they share is music. Margie needs a brace
for her right arm. She’s considered
to be an amputee. BOTH: (SINGING) He’s got the
whole world in his hands. He’s got the whole
world in his hands. He’s got the whole world– MIKE MURPHY (VOICEOVER):
This hasn’t stopped her from learning how
to play the ukulele and indulge in their
passion for song. The relationship she’s
forged with Winn and others in the organization
have changed her life. MIKE MURPHY: You know,
tell me about what it was like growing up. MARGIE: When I was a little
girl, I was quite lonely. A lot of kids
wouldn’t play with me because they saw my disability. And had maybe one
or two friends. But all the rest of them didn’t
know how to talk to me at all. I was just a child then. And now, everything’s changed. My adult life is
really good now. And I’ve been making
friends everywhere. And I’m pretty good about that. And I’m very happy. MIKE MURPHY: Your
relationship with Margie, it’s not a one-way
street, right? WINN: No. MIKE MURPHY: It’s
a two-way street. Tell me what you get out of it. WINN: [CHUCKLES] What do I get– oh, she teaches me lots. She teaches me maybe
to have more patience. But no, it’s– it’s a
good feeling to give. Not everybody maybe has
that in them, to give. I’ve got a lot of friends
who don’t volunteer. But it’s good for me to be
able to share some things that I like with Margie, knowing
that she has a passion for it. [LIGHT MUSIC] MIKE MURPHY: “Citizen
Advocacy Ottawa– Changing Lives” will return. PETER: We’re on our
way to the dog park. [LIGHT MUSIC] MIKE MURPHY: We now return
to “Citizen Advocacy Ottawa– Changing Lives.” Peter Henry met his protege
Bruce Burwell three years ago– PETER: Come on, Cain. Cain, come on. MIKE MURPHY: –and they
bonded almost instantly. Peter and Bruce are
headed toward a gated dog park in Ottawa’s West End, where
Peter’s six-year-old golden lab Cain can escape his guide
dog duties for a while. Cain is obedient and responsive. Both Cain and Peter were
trained through the guide dogs programs run by the
Lions Club Foundation. But he also seems to have
an eye for the camera– PETER: Cain, come. BRUCE: Very good boy. PETER: Good boy. MIKE MURPHY: –and
a keen sense of fun. BRUCE: So there’s
another brown dog here. PETER: Uh-huh. MIKE MURPHY: When freed
of his guide dog duties, Cain is full of
mischief and fun. As he continues to frolic
with his canine friend, Peter talks about how he’s
made adjustments in his life. He showed signs of
vision loss as a toddler and was totally blind
at the age of 20. PETER: When losing your
vision, you have obstacles to go through, and you just– different ways of dealing
with them, you know? You can be– I know some friends that I know
that have lost their vision. They’re very, like,
angry, and, you know, it’s hard to deal
with it that way. So you just gotta– one day to the other, and
do the best you can, and. I look at things, it
could be a lot worse. I got my arms, and my
legs, and I can do things. MIKE MURPHY: Bruce
describes his friend Peter as hyper-competitive. Peter has captured
several trophies at the annual Blind
Anglers International Tournament near Ottawa. Both Peter and Bruce
are avid curlers. Back in 2011, Peter’s
team won the silver medal in the Blind Curlers
National Championship. BRUCE: Over time, you learn
about the other person’s likes and dislikes, and you
get sensitive to what they can do and want to do. And you know their
backstory, their family. I sort of now know who– when Peter talks about
Mark, I know, oh, Mark, that’s his nephew. Owns Saunders Farm. And so you just get very
comfortable with each other. I heard– MIKE MURPHY: For Bruce, a
retired software designer, it’s been an
enriching experience– an experience that he’s
happy to share with others. BRUCE: –but no, I’ve highly
recommended Citizen Advocacy to a bunch of my friends. MIKE MURPHY: Bruce tells his
friends about Citizen Advocacy because he knows there’s a
chronic shortage of volunteers. It’s something that Peter
has experienced firsthand. PETER: Before I got
matched, I actually waited seven years, because there were
lots on the East End of Ottawa, but not in the West
End– volunteers. So it was a little trying, but. WOMAN: I’m one person. MAN: I can’t change the world. WOMAN: I can’t
solve every problem. MAN: But I can change one life. MIKE MURPHY: Unfortunately,
Peter’s story is not unusual. MAN: Just a single person. MIKE MURPHY:
Citizen Advocacy has launched this campaign, which
features some of its members, to attract more volunteers. The campaign is necessary
because the waiting list of disabled people to be
matched has grown to over 300, while the waiting period is
an average of four years. The marketing campaign
helps spread the word– ANNOUNCER: Become a champion. MIKE MURPHY: –about
how volunteering can have a lasting impact,
says Citizen Advocacy executive director Heather Lacey. HEATHER LACEY: –so
you can’t really put a value on what people
are getting from the matches, both on the advocate side and
on the individual side as well. So we’re really grateful
that people look at us and want to be part
of our organization, and part of someone’s life. The more engagement people
have in their community, the healthier they are. As you know, loneliness can
create physical disabilities, or physical illness. It can create some mental
challenges for people. And I think that
when you’re matched, and you have a friend,
somebody that you can call and who’s reliable, that
really goes a long way to help your state of mind
and your physical health. It’s just beautiful. It really is. MIKE MURPHY (VOICEOVER):
The question arises, could Canada use more
citizen advocacy? VERN WHITE: I come from a
small town in Cape Breton, and I’ve always cherished
the opportunities I’ve had. MIKE MURPHY (VOICEOVER):
It’s a question I put to Senator Vern
White, who’s kept mementos of his many adventures. MIKE MURPHY: Do
you think the model for this organization
could work in other cities across the country? VERN WHITE: Certainly, I
think it could be emulated. I have to be fair that it’s a
bit of a magic show in Ottawa for some reason. People have been– it almost
has grown from within itself as a small organization
with limited number. Now they have
dozens of employees, and hundreds of
volunteers and clients. But I certainly think
it could be emulated, and I think a template
could be dropped in any city in the country. MIKE MURPHY: Many people
tell me that Citizen Advocacy is like a family. Well, this past winter,
we lost a family member. John [? Legere ?]
died after slipping on the ice at a bus stop. John’s many friends
in the organization have resolved that his
death will not be in vain. They’re pressing
the city of Ottawa to improve access to the
disabled transit system and do a better job
of cleaning sidewalks. ADRIAN: John, do you like
butter on your toast? JOHN: Yes, please. ADRIAN: OK. So John asked fried
egg sandwich for lunch. And he wanted
cheddar cheese on it. MIKE MURPHY: Back with Adrian
and John, it’s time for lunch. ADRIAN: I was
trying to talk John into a hamburger and fries, but
fried egg and cheddar cheese it is. MIKE MURPHY: Often,
their get-togethers will involve lunch or a
coffee, either at a restaurant or at Adrian’s home. ADRIAN: John, do you like
the ketchup on the side? JOHN: I’m OK. ADRIAN: You’re OK? No ketchup, then? JOHN: No ketchup. ADRIAN: All right, then. MIKE MURPHY: John devours
the sandwich without delay. Adrian, for his part, is happy
to cook and serve his friend. ADRIAN: When I first
started, I was in my 30s. And I was working for
the tax department. I took on a project that
had me working a lot. And I remember being
very tired, and sort of asking if I could take
a break from the volunteer relationship because the
work was so consuming. And at that time,
the counsellor– John’s counsellor was
very, very understanding. This is for your
hands and mouth. MIKE MURPHY: However,
Adrian changed his schedule and the frequency
of their visits, and their friendship
just got stronger. ADRIAN: I’ve learned
a lot from John. And I would like to
think I’ve learned a lot more through
this relationship than he’s benefited from me. One of the things
I’ve appreciated out of the relationship
is just learning how to see things a little– not see things, but
feel what maybe John might feel going through life. And learning how
to adapt to that. So John’s very loud. His voice is loud,
right, naturally. JOHN: Yeah. I go to Camp [INAUDIBLE]
August the 9th. MIKE MURPHY (VOICEOVER):
As John talks about his plans for summer
camp, Adrian has made a point that resonates with me– learning how to see things
through someone else’s eyes. It’s really what I’ve
discovered with Joe. MIKE MURPHY: So you’re
looking very trim. JOE: Yeah. MIKE MURPHY: I think we’ve
earned ourselves a coffee or something cold to drink. JOE: Yeah. MIKE MURPHY: Our barber
shop duties done, Joe and I head to the
neighbourhood diner for a cup of tea and a chat. As usual, there’s a lot of
chatter about the Blue Jays and optimism about the coming
season for the Toronto Maple Leafs. JOE: That they show
up at the fence, and they do some of the
things they need to do. They are close enough
to go for it now. MIKE MURPHY (VOICEOVER):
I think about what Joe must have endured as a kid– name calling and bullying. He’s never dwelled on it. In fact, he’s thrived to
become a strong advocate for the disabled, participating
in fundraisers like this bottle drive, and serving
on committees aimed at addressing the lack of
access for the disabled. MIKE MURPHY: I’ve learned a
lot from this relationship with you. JOE: Yeah. MIKE MURPHY: I’ve
learned about you, and I’ve learned about some
of the issues you face. And I look at the world a lot
differently than how I used to. JOE: Yeah. MIKE MURPHY: So thank you. JOE: Yeah. Yeah. MIKE MURPHY: Because
you’ve taught me a lot. JOE: Yeah. You’ve taught me a lot too, so. MIKE MURPHY: This
organization, Citizen Advocacy, that whole concept, what
do you think about it? ADRIAN: That was a
game changer for us. A real game changer. MIKE MURPHY: Hard
to believe, really, that the simple
act of friendship found in a stroll along the
river can be a game changer. But John and Adrian
believe it can. ADRIAN: I want to plug something
for Citizen Advocacy somehow. I don’t think this
is a huge commitment, but a little bit of
time from your life makes a big difference
to someone else’s life. PETER: Good boy. MIKE MURPHY: It’s that simple. Whether it’s Peter and Bruce
watching Cain play in the dog park, or Margie and Winn
singing their hearts out, friendship can change lives. BOTH: (SINGING) –hands. [CHUCKLING] WINN: There you go. [LIGHT MUSIC] MIKE MURPHY: Producer, Willi
Puerstl, Skyfly Productions. Producer and host, Mike Murphy. Camera operators, Willi Puerstl,
Paul Nolan, Roland Pirker. Integrated Described Video
specialist, Ron Rickford. Regional Content
Specialist, Karen Magee. Coordinating Producer,
Jennifer Johnson. Director, Production, Cara Nye. Director, Programming,
Brian Perdue. VP, Programming and
Production, John Melville. President and CEO,
David Errington. Copyright 2019,
Accessible Media Inc.

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