Running a business from his home, with a wife and two young children, Pat’s life was full. When reflecting on one of the “big questions” – the meaning of life and his personal contribution – Pat recognised that there has to be a balance. He knew there are many people in this world less fortunate than himself, but also felt that it is too easy to simply write a cheque.
When Pat chose to become a citizen advocate in 2002, he was matched with Don, a middle-aged man with intellectual disability. Don had no one in his life who was able to speak up for him when he needed a little extra help and had no family close by to share his joys and sorrows.
Whilst looking out for Don and involving him in some of his family’s activities, Pat found he enriched his own life and his family’s. Pat had the satisfaction of being able to share some of life’s bounties whilst at the same time protecting Don from those taking advantage of him by checking his mail, (ensuring over-zealous salesmen hadn’t signed him up for contracts he didn’t need or want) assisting with paperwork and other small tasks. This little bit of help went a long way toward ensuring that Don remained living independently in his own home for as long as possible.
Postscript: citizen advocates often respond to changes in the life of their protégé. Don developed Parkinson’s and in 2011 moved into an aged care facility. Pat’s role has changed significantly over the years, but he continues to visit Don and is an important part of his life.