Homeless man’s friendship with Sydney’s CEO prompted lifelong advocacy work

Written by Javed Iqbal

When Debbie Organ saw an ad for a missing dog in Sydney’s CBD appear on her phone, she recognized it immediately.

It belonged to a homeless man she had seen countless times outside Myer in Pitt Street.

When she was an animal lover, she used her own social network to track the dog and return it to its owner, John.

“When I left, he got up and gave me his milk crate and asked if I would come back and talk to him next week.

“I took time off every Friday for the next four or five years and sat on the street learning about the homeless.”

Debbie and John are standing next to Debbie's mother, who is sitting down in a pink sweater.
Debbie Organ (right) regularly goes out to lunch with John and her mom on the weekends.(Delivered by: Debbie Organ)

Friendship runs advocacy business

Ms Organ is now the CEO of Oak Flats Bowling and Recreation Club and Illawarra Yacht Club.

She works during the week in the Illawarra region, then returns to Sydney every weekend to visit John, who now lives in a nursing home.

She has today recruited her directors and staff from both clubs to take part in a sleepover to specifically raise money for Illawarra homeless and domestic violence.

“I have done [Vinnies] CEO Sleepout in Wollongong, but this year we all need to sleep out, “said Organ.

“We have raised over $ 5,000 in a raffle and we want to make it an annual event at our club.

Ms. Organ said that while supporting Vinnie’s CEO Sleepout, which will take place Thursday night, she wanted to raise money that she could use herself for local purposes.

“I want to know exactly where the money is going, so every dollar we raise will go to the community and we will stand for every cent,” she said.

Dogs are a barrier to accommodation

Mrs Organ said John’s dog, Carrie, was like a member of his family.

John keeps his little brown and white dog.  John has long hair and a long beard.
John’s dog Carrie was an important companion when he lived on the streets of Sydney.(Delivered by: Debbie Organ)

Early in the friendship, as she tried to find shelter for John, none of the options, however, were pet-friendly.

When John demanded a life-saving operation after being assaulted on the street, Mrs. Organ became his guardian and acknowledged with the operation.

When he came out of the hospital, she was able to get him into a nursing home in Sydney.

John and his dog have become part of her family, gather for Christmas and play Keno at the local club.

“I’m taking Carrie with me to visit him, and we go out every Saturday for lunch,” said Mrs. Organ.

“He looks healthy and fit.”

About the author

Javed Iqbal

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