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Originally posted on readers+writers journal:

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Telling The Stories of Those Too Often Ignored


Throughout the past four years I have met many people, now friends, who for various reasons are, or were, homeless.

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 saw him every morning,  was never sure if, when I lifted the corner of his sleeping bag, I would find him dead or alive. Sometimes, he confided, he would have preferred never to awake.

Joy,  fell on hard times. She slept behind a dumpster in back of Starbucks. I saw 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 want to do more. To know them is to love them. What was seen cannot be unseen.

I am  writing an account of their daily lives. Identities and locations have been changed to protect the usual suspects. My book, Gotta Find a Home: Conversations with Street People, is published by Karenzo Media.  I thank publisher, Karen Silvestri for helping to realize my dream. Release date was June 4, 2014.  All profits will be used to support those forced onto the streets and the Ottawa Innercity Ministries, Street Outreach Program.

Purpose: OIM’s Street Outreach teams come to walk alongside the poor and homeless in the downtown core. Volunteer teams provide relief provisions, pastoral care, crisis intervention and referrals. Street Outreach is the main component of OIM’s work. Through Street Outreach our trained volunteers meet men and women living on the street, create trusting relationships, and can work to filling both physical and personal needs. Last year (2012) OIM connected with 7,672 individuals on the street in downtown Ottawa, 2,735 of whom were youth.

The Red Vests If you see two or more people walking down the street wearing a bright red vest with the OIM logo on it then you have run into one of our mobile outreach teams! OIM’s Street Outreach volunteers are out meeting with people and handing out snacks and toiletries six days a week. We have teams on the street Monday to Thursday nights (7pm – 9pm), including late Wednesday (9pm-Midnight). Additional teams are out during the day on Wednesdays & Saturdays (10am-1pm) and Thursdays & Fridays (1-3pm).


You may donate Directly to Ottawa Innercity Ministries by clicking on the following banner:




2014: $585.00



Attributed to Mahatma Gandhi.


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  1. Dennis – Maybe I’ve seen you here in Ottawa! I wasn’t aware of this program in Ottawa. You’ve made me much more aware. I will have to check out the book. I wish you the very best with this initiative.


    • Hi Shery, perhaps we stand on the same crowded bus together, Please send me any comments (good or bad) you have about my book. The beauty of self publishing is that I can revise as often as I want. I did a major revision as of December 29, 2014. I look forward to keeping in contact with you. Perhaps, we can meet for coffee sometime.



      • Probably we do, although I mostly walk to work. I’d be interested in having a look at your book once I’ve finished wading thru my own backlog. I’ll be sure to send you comments when I do. Coffee? Why not, when it gets warmer (brrr!!!)


  2. Blackhorn33 says:

    My Friend,I hope your Christmas Eve is a safe Blessed one, and tomorrow I send all good things your way, as this is sent to those who want but have not, This is carried on my prayers, with much smoke sent up.


  3. Sonja says:

    Thank you so much for visiting my blog. A friend of mine was homeless and lost for many years. I am happy to say that, through valiant efforts, he was brought back home and is living a happy, loved life. There are so many out there who don’t know love or compassion. Thank you so much for putting a face to those many unfortunate souls. Keep up the wonderful work!


    • I think that the key word is compassion. Many don’t have anyone to turn to for compassion. The world is against them. If we can first acknowledge them, show them that they matter and help them with the basic necessities, it can go a long way towards changing their lives.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Kate Rauner says:

    I had a friend I once worked with whose father-in-law lived on the streets in Denver. She said, some people would say to her – how can you let him do that? But it was his choice. Winters are cold in Denver. I wonder what happened to him.


  5. portjoy says:

    Thanks for following my blog. I also like the technique you used in writing about this sensitive issue of being homeless. The idea that it is based on real conversations with these homeless people brings this problem close home. For me it is a very emotional issue that calls for everyone’s attention so that those who can, can play a part in healing the world. Keep on enlightening the world with words – written and spoken.


    • Thanks for your comments. When I began visiting these people I wrote about my experiences, thinking that one day I may write a biography of one of the characters, or be able to write something about the causes and possible cures for homelessness. When it came to organizing the three years of material I had collected, I didn’t feel qualified to interpret. Instead, I let them speak for themselves. Three more books are to follow.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Ellar Wise says:

    Hi Dennis. Thanks for stopping by my blog. very glad to discover yours. In my series Line 9, I often write about bums. Not that I can do much for them but at least I see them, respect them and, sometimes, write about them just like anyone else.


  7. Mari says:

    You truly inspire me. For most, it is far easier to judge the homeless than it is to sympathize with them and learn their stories without pre-conceived judgement… You, sir, are amazing!!


    Liked by 1 person

  8. Great work, Dennis! And thanks for liking my poem.


  9. plasmnetic says:

    It is always good to read your work, Dennis! I hope you are doing well. Thank you for reading my work and following my page. Have a great day!


  10. Marie Taylor says:

    Thanks for the follow on my blog. I admire the work you are doing and giving a face and voice to those who have none in our society. Best wishes on your journey.


  11. thewriteedge says:

    Thank you so much for following The Write Edge Writing Workshop. I hope you find it edifies and enhances your day. Have a wonderful week, and thank you for the good work you’re doing here!


  12. I finally purchased a Kindle since so many writers here do not have ebooks for Kobo and I just purchased your book. I hope to purchase a hard copy later to show off. Great work, Denis. You are an amazing person creating awareness all over the world. The bitter cold nights these days in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and I hate to even imagine in Winnipeg. Bless you for all you do, Cheryl-Lynn aka Oliana

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Lynn says:

    What a wonderful thing you and OIM are doing! Befriending an addict and helping her in childbirth gave me a whole new perspective on the homeless, especially the addicts. Everyone walks a different path and we never truly know what another person’s is until we get to know them.


    • Thank you for befriending and addict and assisting her in childbirth. Most of my street friends are addicted to either drugs, alcohol or mouthwash. Many have mental disorders. They are just like us, they seek happiness and an end to suffering. ~ Dennis


  14. I would love to trade books, you send me one and I will send you one. We both do a book review on all associated websites and book sales sites for each other. Free book exchange and free review. My book is Visions From Above / My Journey ~ My Destiny by Amy Kamison.…www…… Let name know my email is
    thank you,
    Cherie Lee-aka Amy Jamison


    • Hi Cherie, I’d love to trade books and reviews. My email is I’ll check your sites. Looking forward to reading your book and cross promoting. ~ Dennis


      • Cherie Lee says:

        Thank you, Dennis.
        Please send me your real name and address, in case you are using a ghostwriter name as I am. I will mail you the book as soon as I receive your address.
        Mine is:
        Cherie Lee
        13021 S. 48TH street, apt. 1089
        Phoenix, Arizona

        Have a blessed week and thank you for all you do in your organization. Everyone in this world needs to give to the homeless and the poor instead of to the church in my opinion. We do not need to support walls of a building for the people, we just need to support the people!


      • Hi Cherie, thank you for your kind words. I agree, we need to support the people. I have heard countless stories or people being denied access to shelters, or even worse being the victims of abuse in these, so called, shelters. I know that the staff, volunteer and paid, do their best with limited budgets, but from the view of a homeless person it is still ‘us against them’.

        My name and address are as follows:

        Dennis Cardiff
        1409 Larose Avenue
        Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
        K1Z 7X6

        Or, you may send a Kindle version to

        I eagerly anticipate the arrival of your book. I know that I will love it.



  15. Kurt Struble says:

    hi dennis … to what extent does OIS’s reach into the world? are they a local phenomenon where you live, are they regional or just exist in a few cities? how do chapters come into existence? are there chapters here in the U.S.? ks


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