Project #1510

Securing the future for people with disabilities

by Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network (PLAN)
David and his network
David and his network

We would like to share with you the story of David Cohen, someone who was helped by his PLAN network of support. Thanks to your support we have helped many people and hope to help more. Thank you for your generosity.

David's Story

Garland Cohen was in her eighties when she and her son David joined PLAN. She had been pushing the future to the back of her mind for a long time, hoping for a miracle. Garland wasn't afraid of dying; she was afraid of leaving David alone. David had an apartment in the basement of the house where he and his mother had lived for 20 years. While he knew many people in the community, none of them knew one another. Garland's health was failing and she feared that David was growing increasingly isolated and might slip through the cracks. With the help of PLAN, Garland set up a trust and started a network for David. Soon after, she was diagnosed with cancer. David's network provided the support she needed to die at home. After she passed away, the network helped David move into an apartment of his own.

In the years since Garland's death, David said that the network gave him a sense of security about living in the community, and that he didn't feel alone. Over time, the network helped him tackle issues like employment, using computers, and going back to school. "They're very wonderful people," he said of his friends, and they said the same about him. John Meyer, an early network member and advisor to Garland in setting up the trust for David more than 12 years ago, observed that if Garland could see how David had thrived, "She'd be tickled pink."

It was in October 2005, at the age of 61, that David was diagnosed with brain cancer. His friends rallied round and weeks later, on a December evening, he joined more than 75 friends at a Christmas party held to celebrate his extraordinary life. David’s dedicated patronage of the musical arts was evident among the guests. Canada's first lady of opera, Judith Forst, related how, for decades, David had been coming back stage to compliment her. "When David loves something," she said, "it isn't 50 percent, it's 100 percent." Linda Lee Thomas, lead pianist with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, said, "A concert of the VSO is not complete without David Cohen. He comes backstage and always has that wonderful hand extended and shares his generous thanks."

David inherited his mother's passion for peace and social justice, and his letter writing for Amnesty International is legendary. During civic elections, David volunteered for COPE and later Vision Vancouver, and rarely missed a local political meeting. At the party, Vancouver mayoral candidate Jim Green–out of the country at the time–sent a letter recalling how David's presentation on a panel about the opera, Of Mice and Men, moved a listening tenor to tears.

Others spoke of David's kindness and his generous spirit. Lyle Lexier, a member of David's network, said, "David Cohen has been my friend for 15 years. We talk about opera and human rights and the release of political prisoners and how to end capital punishment." Longtime friend Owen Underhill disclosed, "I don't think I've ever felt so affirmed in my life as when David left me a message about my work as a composer, a conductor, a father, and a friend." Network member Barrie Vickers spoke for everyone in the room when he said, "It is a wonderful gift you have given us David, and we'll live out the joy that you've given to us." When David took the microphone, he said, "Thank you for your beautiful words." Then the whole room joined in a rousing verse of Hark the Herald Angels Sing. A long line formed at David's side, and for the next hour he graciously greeted friend after friend.

David passed away peacefully on January 27, 2006 and a memorial service was held a few days later. His friends found it fitting that David’s life came to an end on Mozart’s birthday amid musical tributes to his beloved composer. A few days later, Bramwell Tovey, conductor of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, dedicated a performance of Mozart's Masonic Funeral Music to David and in March, a documentary about David aired on CBC-TV’s The National. PLAN staff continues to miss the daily phone calls that kept them up to date on current events and local performing arts schedules. As one of the people on David’s network said, “He had a good life and a good ending. Really, what more could anyone ask for?”

View David and his network's picture below.

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Organization Information

Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network (PLAN)

Location: Vancouver, British Columbia - Canada
Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network (PLAN)
Project Leader:
Heather McArthur
Marketing and Communications Associate
Vancouver, B.C. Canada

Funded Project!

Thanks to 22 donors like you, a total of $2,565 was raised for this project on GlobalGiving. Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

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