Tag Archives: Ottawa

The Write Stuff: Gotta Find a Home

We have choices. All I'm asking you to do is consider them. Well, AND to read "Gotta Find a Home." Because it's awesome. Photo by Kenneth Reitz

We have choices. I’m only asking you to consider them. And to read “Gotta Find a Home.” Because it’s awesome. Photo by Kenneth Reitz

The world started changing with a breakfast sandwich and a cup of coffee.

He was walking to work.

She was panhandling for money on the sidewalk.

“Thank you so much, sir. You’re so kind. Bless you,” the woman said to him after receiving the gift.

That was a few years ago. Today, the man and the woman are close friends.

His name is Dennis.

Her name might be Joy. Dennis protects identities.

And now we have Gotta Find a Home.

Dennis is just a guy. I don’t mean that as an insult. He’s most certainly MUCH MORE than “just a guy.”

But he’s just a guy who works in an office building and took the time to pause and show consideration to a homeless woman.

To see her as a human being. No different than him. And not as the blight of society as so many people—even me—have felt before.

He lives in Ottawa, Canada. All of his stories take place there.

He has delivered food and coffee to Joy on many mornings. And now, after spending several months talking with Joy and meeting her companions, Dennis is tapped into the homeless network in his city.

There is violence. And sadness. Addiction. And frustration. Fear. But also laughter. And hope.

Dennis has no agenda but kindness. To shine light on some of the things most of us try not to think about when we’re at dinner parties on the weekends or taking our children to shopping malls.

The writing is mostly dispassionate. Like a newspaper report.

It’s perfect. Because it’s just so… human.

The idea is so brilliant, so simple, so good, that it makes you want to hug yourself.

About the Author

His name is Dennis Cardiff.

He doesn’t think what he’s doing is particularly special. He’s too humble for that.

But he clearly recognizes its importance. Its value.

Be the change you wish to see in the world.

You’ll see that peppered throughout Gotta Find a Home.

About the Blog

Gotta Find a Home is an account of the daily lives of this particular group of homeless people and everything they have to face.

The goal is to eventually publish a book.

Here’s a taste, from the blog’s Introduction post:

“Antonio slept on a park bench and was beaten, had his teeth kicked out, for no other reason than his choice to sleep outdoors. He is a small, gentle man who has a phobia about enclosed spaces.

“Craig slept on the sidewalk in the freezing cold. I see him every morning and am never sure if, when I lift the corner of his sleeping bag, I will find him dead or alive. Sometimes, he confided, he would prefer never to awake.

“Joy is a friend who fell on hard times. She slept behind a dumpster in back of Starbucks. I have seen her with blackened eyes, bruised legs, cracked ribs, cut and swollen lips. I usually see her sitting on the sidewalk ‘panning’ for change.

“I can’t do much for these people except to show them love, compassion, an ear to listen, perhaps a breakfast sandwich and a coffee. I would like to do more. To know them is to love them. What has been seen cannot be unseen.”

Why It Matters

Hopefully, this is obvious to you.

Most people aren’t brave enough, unselfish enough, loving enough, humble enough, awesome enough to do what Dennis is doing.

He has immersed himself with the homeless community. “Street people,” he calls them.

They are his friends. They have become the people he is closest to in the world along with his immediate family.

What can one man do to help change the world?


Because this absolutely will help these people. Dennis already is, simply by loving them and being kind to them and respecting them and displaying compassion.

He’s not judging. He’s not turning up his nose. He’s giving what he can and asking for nothing in return.

I believe strongly this Gotta Find a Home project has the opportunity to get some legs and earn the kind of attention—and by extension, funding—that can really make a difference for a lot of people.

But it’s also going to help the rest of us, too. In deep and meaningful ways.

It’s good to feel a little uncomfortable.

You have no reason to feel guilty about having houses and cars. A fridge full of food. A nice television to watch football. Plenty of cash to order pizza and throw the leftovers away.

But you have EVERY reason in the world to feel a little itch, a little pull, to spend more time being considerate of other people, to give a little more time volunteering for a good cause, or a little more money to the have-nots.

I’ll never stop saying it. Because I don’t know if I believe in an idea more than this one:

We must give more than we take.

Let’s not all fight over the table scraps.

Let’s just all keep giving to those around us.

I’m going to get something back. You’re going to get something back. We’re all going to have enough this way.

Physically. Mentally. Emotionally. Spiritually.

I think you will find that what you receive is much more satisfying than table scraps.

Thank you, Dennis Cardiff.

For walking the walk.

For doing it right.

For buying that breakfast sandwich and cup of coffee.

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