Sue Richards has passed away

Dear friends,

On August 2, Sue passed away. She had been under increasingly intolerable pain when she died, so our sadness is mixed with relief.

I’ve been going over the names of those who helped her with regular donations so consistently and generously; those who enabled her to spend her last years with us, actually with us — with loved ones, on the street she treasured, among the people she cared about — rather than under institutional care. Your gift was immeasurable. Your whole was far more than the sum of each of your contributions.

It was a whole lot of love.

Your subscriptions via PayPal have all been cancelled. Donations made after her death will be refunded.

On behalf of all those who have been part of, I offer our deepest gratitude.


Songs for Sue | A Harry Manx and Friends Concert

Please join us on October 22 at Dublin Street United Church. Tickets $25 here, available at The Bookshelf (a small service fee is required), and can be bought at the door for $30.

You can make a donation to Sue at the Helping Friends home page.

If you’re wondering why Sue can’t get funds from the Ontario Disability Support Program, please read “But Can’t Ontario Disability Help?”


3 minutes about Sue

This video by Jeff Bird has Sue Richards describing what it’s like to live with Parkinson’s — and how she couldn’t get by without a lot of help from her friends.

For more information about helping Sue, please go here or donate now with PayPal via the sidebar at right. To find out more about Sue’s financial dilemma, read this post.

Feel free to share this video widely.

“But can’t Ontario Disability help?”

Sue Richards’ Facebook post about her experience trying to get disability:

The intake officer for Ontario Disability Services seemed burdened and depressed as he was looking over my paperwork and outlining the ODSP guidelines to June and I.

When I called to set up the appointment, I was told that I would need to supply a copy of every living expense, details of income – no matter what the source – a list of assets and any savings that I may have squirreled away.

A list of bank accounts, credit cards and lines of credit were also required along with an exact count of the change in my wallet.

I have learned that there are many misconceptions about our social safety net within my community. For instance, ODSP does not provide you with the funds that you need to live the life that you are living. Instead, they provide a set amount of money and expect that you will reduce your expenses to live within that amount.

I was offered 50% of what I needed.

Before I had a chance to feel any relief, the officer informed me that I could not make up the difference between what I needed and what ODSP was prepared to offer by using my line of credit, credit cards, gifts of money or employment. By accepting ODSP terms, I was also required to sign over access to my bank accounts so they could monitor my financial picture and make sure that I followed their rules.

Even though I was clearly suffering from a debilitating illness, I was starting to feel like a criminal in the making. So I asked what I needed to do in order to receive support.

I was told – reduce your expenses.

My only expenses are health and housing related. I don’t drink, smoke, travel, eat out, go out, own a car or pet or have children. I’m no clothes horse either. So reducing my expenses really meant selling my house.

But here’s the irony in that plan. I also need daily personal support. When I applied for this assistance I was told that I was eligible for 1 hour per week – but due to a glut of need in the community, that was not currently available. The waiting list for supported living apartments, which I’m on, was many years long too.

So I used my only asset – and traded my spare room for the needed live-in help – which has worked out beautifully for both Lianne and I.

Back to selling my house.

If I were to liquefy my house, I would have a lump sum of cash. But of course, ODSP does not allow a recipient to have savings over $5,000.00. So I still would not be eligible for social assistance. And, I would have to move – thereby giving up my spare room deal with Lianne and saying good bye to the plethora of needed support I have in my neighbourhood.

And without assisted living, where would I move to that would be as safe and supported and cheap as required by ODSP?

Other sources of aid didn’t bear fruit either. As a self employed artist, I had no employer disability or private insurance. And because of my fluctuating income over the years my contributions to CPP disability was not sufficient to meet their criteria for support.

So – there are cracks in our system. I have fallen through one.

But I have fallen into the arms of helping friends and family. I am very lucky. Grateful. And clearly loved.

– Sue Richards

Will you help a friend in need?

categories: Helping Friends
Thank you for visiting this site. It means you are concerned about Sue Richards.

A number of us, friends of Sue, are organizing long-term financial assistance. We hope you’ll become part of our effort.

As you might have heard, Sue was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s. It is a progressive neurological condition that could eventually make things very difficult for her.

Lately, Sue has been having trouble with daily tasks we all take for granted, like walking and getting up from a chair. Her ability to use a keyboard has been severely compromised. That’s how she makes her living as a freelance writer.

Most self-employed people have no medical benefits or extra health insurance. Worse, governments in Canada do not offer support to people with disabling illness until they are without assets. Even when they do, assistance is meager and can be humilating.

Our goal is to recruit at least 100 big-hearted people willing to contribute $10 or $20 per month (or more if inclined) to help Sue through the coming stages of her journey. It is an ongoing commitment. We want to make sure she doesn’t have to worry about basic necessities while attempting to recover from this frightening disease.

A gratifying number of Sue’s friends have already signed up. But dozens more contributors are needed if we are to build a meaningful monthly stipend from numerous small contributions.

It isn’t necessary to know Sue to feel good about helping her. In coming years, many more Canadians will struggle this way as our population gets older. We, the more fortunate, must step in where governments refuse. We must ease the fear and suffering.

Please consider adding Sue to your charitable giving. She is community member who needs us. Her plight could be yours.

Helping is easy. It’s done through Paypal using your credit card. No Paypal account is necessary. Security is airtight. Good feelings are guaranteed.

Thank you for caring. This will make a world of difference to Sue.

Tony Leighton
Gareth Lind
Chris Iwanowski

Fundraiser: Annual Family Dodge Ball Tournament

Dr. Frances Turk hosts an Annual Family Dodge Ball Tournament Fundraiser for Sue at her Rockwood clinic on Family Day that is very fun and most helpful. We’d be pleased if you joined us.

Monday February 20th
noon – 3pm
$5.00 per person plus pledges
Rockwood Naturopathic Clinic
4200 25th Side Road, RR#2, Rockwood
Tel: 519-853-2443

Get your registration form here.

If you do Facebook, check in here.

Dr. Turk explains, “I have chosen to do Local Support as sometimes these wonderful people get missed in the shuffle and if we were able to do something like this event, to help them out, it would really be a fantastic thing. The thing is, we all win on that day, with fun, and prizes and the warmth in our hearts that we were able to do something for someone who presently cannot. We will have food available, drinks (not alcoholic naturally as it is a family event) and if we’re lucky, a nice bonfire to keep us toasty warm! We’ll have games for the kids, along with the dodgeball games. We’ll keep things moving and shakin and of course, as mentioned, we’ll have some great prizes at the end! Please consider joining us. We would love to have you out.”


Please join us for a fun, musical night to help our friend Sue Richards, recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. We want to raise funds to help Sue with her current expenses while she’s not working.

Date: Saturday April 5.
Where: Eden Mills Community Hall, 108 York St., Eden Mills.
Time: Doors Open at 8pm. Music starts at 9 p.m.
What: Three bands for $20.
Who: The Great Wooden Trio, Jude Vadala and Friends, The Exceptions (lots of dancing)

Tickets are available in advance at Wild Rose Consignment Clothing at 23 Macdonell Street or by calling Jude Vadala 519 – 767-2893 or Kit Bresnahan 519 – 856-1188. If you want to guarantee a spot to partake in the fun, please buy your ticket in advance.