Category Archives: Community


Volunteering at The Royal’s Christmas Tree Sale

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The Royal combines the delivery of specialized mental health care, advocacy, research and education to transform the lives of people with complex mental illness. Their work is incredibly important to our region.

The Royal’s 25th annual Christmas tree sale kicked off Saturday December 3. Since it started in 1986, the tree sale has raised more than $270,000 for patient and family activities.

At 8 a.m., 900 balsam firs arrived fresh from Nova Scotia on a flat bed truck. Don and I have volunteered for the past five years to help unload the trees , along with our friend Adrian, his fiancé Amanda and my wife, Heather. Imagine doing 900 30lb reps at the gym. It’s a lot of work for a very good cause.


Many hands make light work and all 20 volunteers got the trees unloaded at set-up for sale in just over 90 minutes.

Monday to Friday: 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Saturday, December 7 to December 24, or until the trees are sold out. Last year, thanks to tremendous community support, they sold out before December 24.




Community Cup team CBC

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The Community Cup is an annual all-day festival for newcomers to Canada, including a soccer tournament, multicultural dance and music performances, food, kids’ zone and more.

Following the interview I did with CBC radio about Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement from Manchester United, CBC kindly invited Heather and I to play on their team.

Heather, Robyn Bresnahan (Ottawa Morning host) and me.
Team CBC



Spartan Race 2013

Don and I ran, climbed and crawled the Spartan Race at Edeilweiss ski hill with a few friends. The course is 6.7 km of uphill and downhill running, interspersed with 27 obstacles.

This 90-second video shows what we endured and survived.


Ottawa’s biggest Manchester United fan

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Yesterday Sir Alex Ferguson announced his retirement from managing the mighty Manchester United. CBC radio’s Ottawa Morning host, Robyn Bresnahan, remembered a conversation that she and Heather (my wife — still getting used to calling her that) had about me being from Manchester and being a massive Manchester United fan. She asked if I’d come on the show.


Then the panic set it. I’d never been interviewed before.

Paul on Ottawa Morning

After the interview, we took Robyn into the hall for wearing a Chelsea shirt.


An accessible bathroom for Chris — THANK YOU.

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Chris Jordan ManU game
Heather, Chris and Dan cheering on Manchester United.

(Scroll down for an update)

Chris Jordan’s dream bathroom doesn’t have crystal, marble or a rain shower head. He needs a physically accessible bathroom and only $1,000 stands in the way.

Living with multiple disabilities has never stopped Chris from wanting the same things as other adults: an active social life, being close to his family, interesting work and to live on his own with friends he chooses. This final goal has been the hardest to achieve for the 38 year old.

Chris’ parents are ageing and ill, adding increased urgency to Chris finding stable and supportive housing.

Chris Jordan and Chris Scott
Chris Jordan celebrating his birthday with Chris Scott.

After much searching, Chris has found an apartment where he’ll live with Chris Scott, who is both his friend and care provider. Additional assistance will be provided by a local agency that supports adults with disabilities living in ‘home share’ (the system’s jargon for living in a care provider’s home under the supervision of an agency).

But, the apartment bathroom isn’t accessible and Chris can’t move in until it is. Chris has some ability to walk and needs a shower stall without a lip or ledge plus a network of strong grab bars to support his weight.

Chris’ dream to live on his own is now within reach. The only thing standing in his way is fundraising the final $1,000 for building materials.

Chris Jordan Chris Scott pool
Chris J, Chris S and me.

Please support Chris’ Christmas wish.

Donations can be made to the Ottawa Rotary Home Foundation on-line, by phone to 613-822-5391 or by mail to the Ottawa Rotary Home at 4637 Bank Street, Ottawa ON, K1T 3W6. Please specify you are donating towards Chris Jordan’s bathroom.

Thank you,

Paul and Heather
Update December 12, 2012 10:43 a.m. 
$350 has been raised! We’re $650 from a new bathroom.
Update December 13, 2012 2:36 p.m.
$895 has been raised!
Update December 13, 2012 3:33 p.m.
$1000 raised. Thank you everybody for helping Chris achieve his dream for a stable place to call home with an accessible bathroom.

BIG update February 17, 2013

Bathroom before.

Back in December, Chris Jordan was so very close to his goal: to live in a stable home with a person of his choosing.

His friends and supporters were working hard to raise the funds needed to turn a standard bathroom into an accessible bathroom.

That last $1,000 seemed to be the hardest. Then you came along.

THANK YOU to the many people that generously donated to Chris’ dream when they read the message above. Many of you have never met Chris, but you opened your hearts to support his dream.

You are the best kind of people. It’s beyond touching.

And wow, have we got news to share…

Bathroom after. Chris loves it!

The bathroom has been renovated, including a raised toilet, accessible shower that Chris can walk into and a network of grab bars.

Chris Jordan has moved into the apartment he now shares with Chris Scott.

Chris sends a huge THANK YOU to everyone that made this possible. Chris, Chris, Heather and I had dinner together tonight at the apartment and it was rather emotional at one point. Living here means so very much to him. And, the stability means the world to everyone that cares about him.

Please know what a wonderful difference your donation has made to a terrific guy.

“I’m just so touched by the generosity of the community. Not only of those who donated towards the renovation fund, but also those who have donated their time and talents to make this happen. The results are incredible. It has allowed Chris to live his life with close to the same level of autonomy as his brother or sister. I’m so pleased to see Chris so happy in his new home – and I mean “home.” It’s not just a space where he lives. It’s a safe, accessible, caring environment that he chose–where he is free to be himself, come and go as he pleases, and take on some of the responsibilities of having his own place. As his sister, it brings me a great deal of comfort. I am deeply touched. I want to thank everyone who helped make this happen.”
– Suzanne Tubb, Chris’ sister

Chris is thrilled with the result and gives you a tour in the video below.


Foster dog Brindi is looking for a forever home

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RandB FC

March 1, 2012 update: Brindi has found her fur-ever home and is no longer available for adoption.

Happy family day! After never previously winning a play-off game, the football team I play on was in the league finals last night. It was a close game and we lost 2-1. Everyone gave all they had and left it on the field.

The guys and I are keeping busy renovating a basement in Orleans. Tomorrow will be the start of week 3. The basement is framed, wired, drywalled and primed. On to the finishing details.

Heather and I love dogs and have a soft spot for rescues — often wonderful pets abandoned through no fault of their own.


Yesterday Brindi arrived from Hopeful Hearts. She’s a three-year-old Brindle-Sheppard.

The first thing we noticed is how trusting and submissive she is. Within minutes she rolled onto her back to have her belly scratched. She knows the hand commands for “sit”, “down” and “paw”. “Heel” seems to spark recognition in her, but for now she pulls on-leash.

She waits to be invited, but will happily join you on the couch or bed for a snuggle. We can’t emphasize enough how loving and affectionate she is.

Brindi Bruce Pit
We took Brindi (far right) to Bruce Pit and she loved it.

Brindi has very good table manners. When we sit down to eat, she lays down beside the table (ok, couch) without being told.

Brindi lived for 3 months with a cat while she was in Sudbury just prior to coming to Ottawa. We’re told she and the cat got along famously.

We left her alone for the first time for 3 hours last night and came home to a perfect house. Ok, it’s not like she cleaned for us, but she was a perfect girl while we were gone. She has two plastic chew toys and hasn’t tried to chew anything else.

Brindi snuggling sick nephew 02
Brindi is wonderful with children. Here she is curled up with my napping sick nephew.

As I type this, she’s lying down at the foot of the couch, in front of the window, fixated on the birds and squirrels outside. TV for dogs?

Like many three year old dogs, Brindi has lots of energy. She would benefit from living in an active household where she’ll get daily exercise.

March 1, 2012 update: Brindi has found her fur-ever home and is no longer available for adoption.


Navan Animal Rescue

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Navan Animal Rescue puppies
Amanda with four-week-old

Michelle lost her home in a fire a couple years back and is rebuilding. Throughout the process, she has remained dedicated to running the Navan Animal Rescue, which is critical to the region.

Navan Animal Rescue Balou
Heather and Balou

Navan is just a few minutes east of Ottawa and the rescue operation takes in mostly small dogs. There is a fabulous group of volunteers that support the shelter activities, including dog walking, clean-up and so much more.

I went out to the shelter with a group of friends one Saturday to help out. We spent the day cleaning up the yard, tarping a roof, tiling a floor and organizing a storage area.

It wasn’t all work. Playing with the four-week old puppies and their sweet mother, Star, put grins on our faces. Balou, the Bernese mountain dog mix, spent the day outside with us and collapsed at our feet for snuggles whenever he got a chance. Pumpkin danced on her back paws when we walked past her enclosure.

They were such good dogs and we wondered who possibly could have given them all up. We wanted to take them all home.

Navan animal rescue
Newly tiled floor in a room to shelter
rescued dogs waiting for adoption.

Do you volunteer? There are so many ways you can help in and around Ottawa. Volunteer Ottawa has a website and really helpful staff that can meet with you to help figure out which volunteer opportunity is right for you.

900 christmas trees will arrive in Ottawa, fresh from Nova Scotia, on Saturday, December 3. They are sold as part of the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre annual Christmas tree sale, all in support of client care. Consider volunteering on truck unloading day (that’s December 3) as I’ve done for years, or volunteering to do a few shifts to sell trees up until Christmas.


CBC Radio’s Scavenger Stylist Challenge and the Youth Services Bureau of Ottawa Young Men’s Shelter

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Ottawa Home Renovation Contractor Youth Services Bureau Ottawa Young Mens Shelter CBC Scavenger Stylist dining room before
Dining room: before.

In early September, CBC radio’s All in a Day invited listeners to apply to be contestants in a Scavenger Stylist challenge. Spending as little money as possible, contestants were to spend a month decorating a room in their own home, with challenges thrown in along the way. Reality radio.

My fiancée, Heather, applied and was one of four people accepted. She was paired up with another contestant, so there were two teams. Instead of decorating a room in one of their own homes, Heather and her teammate discussed their passion for helping others.

Over the September long weekend they reached out to various local charities and decided on the Youth Services Bureau of Ottawa Young Men’s Shelter after a tour given by worker Greg Ross. I came along.

Ottawa Home Renovation Contractor Youth Services Bureau Ottawa Young Mens Shelter CBC Scavenger Stylist kitchen before 02
Kitchen: before.

This program offers young men aged 12 to 20 immediate access to safe housing. Open 365 days a year, the Young Men’s Shelter is always ready to welcome youth with nowhere else to turn.

Ottawa Home Renovation Contractor Youth Services Bureau Ottawa Young Mens Shelter CBC Scavenger Stylist designer Joanne McNally
Designer Joanne McNally
and her family generously
donated their time and

But the shelter is much more than a place to stay. Support is also available 24 hours a day. The shelter has 30 beds and offers both emergency shelter and transitional housing for up to a year.

We could see the sunny kitchen and dining room, which serves 16 teenage boys each day, needed some help. While only five years old, you can imagine a space used daily by 16 young men would endure some wear and tear.

I was moved by Greg’s dedication and passion to help the boys and offered to help. During the month, and thanks to the generosity of local organizations, we transformed the space.

Paul Gratton Home Renovations Contractor Youth Services Bureau Ottawa Young Mens Shelter CBC Scavenger Stylist kitchen after 01
AFTER. The young men chose C2 paint colour “Sanctuary”.

Paint: donated by Randall’s as one of the weekly challenge prizes.

Backsplash tiles: donated by local designer Joanne McNally. She and her enthusiastic family spent a Sunday afternoon installing the tiles and painting.

Wainscoting: I installed 50-feet along the base of the dining room walls to protect them from chair damage and keep maintenance down. Donated by Joanne McNally.

Home Renovations Contractor Youth Services Bureau Ottawa Young Mens Shelter CBC Scavenger Stylist dining room after

Custom butcher block table: speaking with the staff and young men, the kitchen’s traffic flow wasn’t ideal. A hot dinner is delivered each evening and some men choose to cook their own food. They needed a serving area away from the stove where plates would also be accessible. Using a butcher block donated by a past client and left-over materials from various projects, I built a custom serving area.

Open shelving: Heather and I installed in the kitchen to replace water damaged cupboards and increase their storage space.

Ottawa Home Renovation Contractor Youth Services Bureau Ottawa Young Mens Shelter CBC Scavenger Stylist butcher block country kitc
Custom counter, using a butcher
block donated by my past client
and left-over materials from
various projects.

Art: local organizations and artists donated the finishing touches.

The other team helped a man and his son, new to Canada and supported by the Ottawa Mission. Together, Ron and Suzanne furnished his entire apartment, including providing toys for his young son.

Read more about the challenge on CBC’s All in a Day webpage and on the YSB’s webpage. Alan Neal shot this video.