March 10, 2015

One Thin Dime

Guest blogger: Ottawa Mission Executive Director Peter Tilley

Every day at The Ottawa Mission we see people who are hungry, homeless and hurting. Although everything we do in our work is aimed at helping them, we know that despite our best efforts, we can’t “do it all”. This can be discouraging from time to time.

Recently we had a visit from a special guest who spoke to the staff about how we must never give up – that our work is important, and that we are changing lives, perhaps without always knowing it.

Frank O’Dea is known to many in the business world as a highly successful entrepreneur. Among other things, he was co-founder of Canada’s Second Cup coffee chain.

What many may not know is that, 43 years ago, Frank was homeless and panhandling on the streets of Toronto. He had developed an addiction in his teens, and although his family tried to be supportive, they couldn’t get him to turn his life around. One day, a passerby stopped to talk to Frank and offered him a dime and encouraged him to use it to call someone for help. Frank had recently heard an ad on the radio about a support service for people like him and, moved by this stranger’s genuine concern, he decided to reach out and call them.

Frank has been sober, successful, happily married, and giving back ever since.

Frank reminded me and the rest of the staff and volunteers at The Mission, and we would like to remind you in turn, that even the simplest gesture of kindness and compassion can make all the difference. 

Sometimes, all it takes is one thin dime.