A Spotlight on Doug Cooper
25 years of dedication
Doug Cooper joined Bruce House during the AIDS crisis in the early 90’s; first as a volunteer, then as a caregiver at the Transition House. He did not consider himself prepared for what lay ahead, but after 25 remarkable years, it is clear he was meant for the job.
Today Doug is the Manager of Client Programs and Services and is dedicated to the health of the clients he serves, and the organization that has remained committed to people living with and impacted by HIV.
As a caregiver at the Transition House in 1991, he recalls the AIDS crisis with a pragmatism peppered with sadness. “Every week someone would die on my shift. I’ve helped people die and I have helped people live. When someone trusts you to be there when they take their last breath it is not something you forget. It is an honour.”
In the mid 90’s Doug took over the Supported Independent Living Program (affectionately called the Apartment Program) as more clients were leaving the Transition House well enough to live on their own. With four apartments and a partnership with the Centretown Citizens Ottawa Corporation, Doug was instrumental in creating a program that now has almost 40 apartments; housing families, couples and singles. Stable housing is a foundation for vitality, health and self-confidence and Doug has witnessed the transformations of clients who have gone from street or shelter involved, to housed. It is a remarkable journey of empowerment. Reflecting on the success of the Apartment Program he is quick to point out the joy that comes with seeing a client move into their home. “It makes me happy to give people a key to their own home and to share the experience. Keys…something so simple, means so much.” The frustration lies in the lack of housing available and the waiting list that seems to increase every year.
Looking forward, Doug speaks about the new REST program that ensures that those waiting for housing are not left behind, and the commitment of his colleagues to increase services and engage more people living with HIV. “New positions like the Client Health Management Coordinator and the REST Coordinator are creating goals and objectives for our clients who are engaged in all our programs. Our clients are embraced by a circle of care that allows them to move freely between programs, ensuring a continuum of care and increased success”.
Over the last 25 years, Doug has been involved in every aspect of caring for those who depend on Bruce House. He has dedicated his life to helping people find peace, eliminate fear and move toward health and independence. He is a ‘key’ to the success of Bruce House and we are so grateful for his strength, compassion and exemplary commitment to Bruce House. He has helped us grow as an organization and continues to nurture relationships with clients and the community.
It is a privilege to thank him for all he has given to Bruce House and, by extension, the Ottawa community.
Thank you, Doug Cooper, it is an honour to work side by side with you.