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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:

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Donations  to date $1945

1741512

Attributed to Mahatma Gandhi.

Comments
  1. Hi Dennis. Thank you for visiting ActingDoctor and following along. A theme that has emerged in a number of my entries is “seeing the invisible.” Your work with the homeless is a beautiful example of that. Look forward to learning more . . .

    Like

  2. Sheez A. Writer says:

    I am really touched. My brief encounter with homelessness taught me so much. I am glad there are people who are telling those stories and ashamed that in some of the richest nations such poverty exists.

    Like

    • I too have been close to, but not quite homeless. Homelessness can be eliminated if there is the will to do so. Unfortunately, the very nature of being on the street, not having an address, phone or computer leaves these people without communication. They can’t apply for work and finding available resources is difficult. Also, without an address they can’t vote or have a voice in politics. Politicians respond to voters. It is a vicious cycle. I am hopeful that these stories will make a difference.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. jdhill says:

    Hi Dennis,
    I’ve been on the street, waited until the restaurant emptied before eating scraps. Life then took me to the other extreme. And always the care of helping hands guided my journey. Without them this body would have crumbled long before. We all have stories to tell, I’m glad you will tell them.

    Like

    • Hi JD, We never know what the next moment will bring: injury, disease, death of a loved one, financial downturn, robbery in a strange city. Any of these can pull the carpet of security from under our feet. Any of us can end up on the street. It takes so little to acknowledge a person in need of help and talk to them. We may not have the means to alleviate their problems, but we don’t know until we ask. The offer of coffee and a sandwich may pull someone from the brink of suicide. There can never be too much love or compassion.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Nadia says:

    Thank you for visiting my blog and for liking “Blue”, but especially for bringing me here. Strangely enough, I was in New York City a couple weeks ago and saw a homeless man who really pulled on my heart. I wanted very much to sit down by him and learn his story, but I shied away. Now I wish I had. I tried to capture some of his presence in “Into Thin Air 2”, but it is really inadequate to the moment.

    Like

  5. Anthony says:

    A wonderful project. Since my volentary work at Caritas my eyes have been opened to the pleight of these people. Often things go wrong in their lives, many can “re-bound” but others can’t. It’s usually not really their fault, they are victims!. Love your approach and I’ll check out the book for my Kindle.

    Like

  6. Thank you so much for the follow and for the likes

    Like

  7. booguloo says:

    Thanks for stopping by. It’s been awhile and I’m glad you are keeping the homeless up front. It’s a hard way of living and they need a voice. Thank you.
    Michael

    Like

  8. Ian Gardner says:

    Hello, Dennis, I see that you are now following the blog NEOPTIONS. May what you read there be of assistance to you in your mission. 🙂

    Like

  9. Oana Fagaras says:

    Hey
    I’ve nominated you for the Liebster Award, check it out here:
    https://asolasconb.wordpress.com/2015/08/24/liebster-award/

    Like

  10. Greetings Dennis, I would like to thank you first of all for your vist to “Kingdom Business”, and for your follow. I have returned the visit and I am very impressed with what I have seen so far here at “gottafindahome”, so much so, I returned the follow as well. I too have a pasion for the homeless and maybe I can learn, through your blog just how I can get started in my area. Continue to be the hands and feet of our God brother, and I will be praying for you, your vision and your entire team. Blessings to you.

    …LOVE…GRACE…PEACE…

    Like

  11. ianbcross says:

    Hi Dennis. You do a lot more outreach than I do. I’m based in a clinic. Thanks for dropping by on my blog.

    Like

  12. Homeless people are just people like us! They have needs and desires. There are unfortunately parts of the U.S. that has literally made it illegal to feed a homeless person! I am glad not to be living in that area of the country. If I have the means and desire to help another human being I WILL! Law or no law.

    Like

  13. clanton1934 says:

    Thank you for your interest in GPS. I invite your comment in the comment section.
    ccr

    Like

  14. annj49 says:

    This is really awesome.
    Thanks for sharing the stories and the mission 🙂
    Ann

    Like

  15. Zedd says:

    Thx for the ‘like’ on my blog : End Drug War Aotearoa/NZ

    ‘Kia Ora Koutou.. kia kaha’ (hi all & be strong)

    Like

  16. I bought your book. I’m looking forward to reading it.

    Like

  17. 60while60 says:

    Your words are beautiful and stories touching. Thanks for following my blog.

    Like

  18. Elouise says:

    Hi, Dennis. I just nominated you for a Three Days, Three Quotes Challenge. I know you’re busy, but I also know you have tons of quotes that can bring attention to this part of our world. Thanks for all you do to get the word out about homelessness. Here’s the short link to the post with the nomination: http://wp.me/p32tHJ-3IK. No obligation!
    Blessings,
    Elouise

    Like

  19. Sara Troy says:

    We need more people like Dennis Cardiff, ones who care and give dignity to those so easily tossed aside. I so enjoyed my interview with him, join us from October 13th on and hear all about it.
    http://selfdiscoveryradio.com/2015/10/03/tsm-1541-every-homeless-person-has-a-story

    Liked by 1 person

  20. ramaink says:

    Hello Mr. Cardiff, I have nominated your blog for the Lovely Blog Award. Please do visit my blog post to find out more: https://ramaink.wordpress.com/2015/10/08/one-lovely-blog-award/
    Yours is one of the most compassionate blogs I have ever come across. God Bless.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. S Chatterjee says:

    The situation is dismal in Kolkata (erstwhile Calcutta) from where I blog. You are doing and writing great stuff … honoured to know you here.

    Like

  22. Anam says:

    May the gods bless you a thousand times for the work you do, Dennis. And for following my blog, which is not on the same order of magnitude at all. Although my family and I am perpetually on hard times myself, I do what I can for who I can. And I remember some pretty invigorating conversations with some folks who have chosen a nomadic lifestyle.

    We have a roof over our heads but by the grace of god (and my father, who helps out with the money bits). Therefore we’re able to get food stamps. It’s hard for a family of three to eat $500 of food in one month, so we share our largesse with the homeless. A woman at a gas station burst into tears when I bought her a meal the other day.

    Yet cops in Austin, Texas still hassle the homeless. I don’t understand.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. gertloveday says:

    Congratulations, Dennis. You’re doing great work and we need more and more people like you. Society is really fracturing under the weight of greed and self-interest.

    Like

  24. Thanks for following my blog, hope it inspires you! When I checked out this blog I was impressed by your book and have bought it. God bless you and these street people.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Good Afternoon Dennis,
    I’m glad you were able to share a quiet moment. Our thrush is like a smaller version of your robin, with speckled rather than red markings; and a great singer!

    Liked by 1 person

  26. laurietopin says:

    Fascinating. Love it. Thanks for the follows and keeping up with my blog.

    FYI my blog is now under the website laurietopin.com. Looking forward to seeing you there!

    Like

  27. Michelle says:

    I must say that what you are doing is beautiful. I have spend today just going through your blog reading so many interesting and touching stories.
    Not many will do what you are doing here!

    Thank you for taking the time out to follow my blog and allowing me the opportunity to follow yours! 🙂

    -Michelle

    Like

  28. Fidget says:

    getting your book tonight on my kindle dennis. looking forward to reading it.

    Like

  29. chris jensen says:

    Have you become part of their street family yet Dennis?

    Ps, everytime i go to the comment box through my wordpress reader, i get both box’s and then when i submit comment returns with error..

    Like

  30. Thank you for following my blog – christianarticlesblog@wordpress.com. Please feel free to share the articles you like with as many as you can. This way we serve Jesus and follow His command to pass on God’s Word to others.
    May God bless you and keep you and give you peace.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. What a beautiful and compassionate effort on behalf of people everywhere who are marginalized and invisible. You are an angel.

    Like

  32. I must follow your heartrending posts. Thanks for liking my latest—really a sideline as I uncover the mysteries of my immigrant parents and the lives they built in North America in the early 20th century.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Lynn says:

    Thanks for following Born in My Heart: A Bittersweet Adoption Memoir. I admire your work and look forward to reading more. Lynn

    Like

  34. solosocial says:

    I admire your community efforts–and I appreciate your following my blog.

    Like

  35. God Bless you for the work you do…so feel bad for the homeless..so many not there fault..
    Sherri

    Like

  36. Soul Gifts says:

    I came here to say thank you for visiting my blog and choosing to follow. I am now humbled and truly honoured to have connected with you. I worked in community mental health for a long time. What you describe is so familiar to me. My heart goes out to all of those precious souls who are doing it tough. God bless you and the work you do. And each and every person with whom you connect. May the Love and Light of this Season be with you all.

    Like

  37. batgurrl says:

    Thank you for visiting my Crow blog. It seems like life my blog has morphed with the serendipity moments that present themselves. The quest to follow the Duwamish & Green Rivers has opened my eyes to how fortunate I am. Bless you for your work to help others. r

    Like

  38. I am deeply involved with the homeless in downtown Los Angeles. We have more homeless that any other city in the US. I have donated my time as a photographer to cover many events related to helping the homeless and have donated photographic equipment and picture frames for the opening of a gallery in Skid Row where the homeless can create and display their artwork. After all, who can tell their story better than they can?

    Best of luck in your efforts.

    Like

  39. Hi Dennis, thank you for following my blog, I have sat here reading your posts and I look forward to seeing more of your writings. May your path continue in helping those in need,

    Like

  40. It’s important work listening to those whose voices are more often ignored. Keep it up.

    Liked by 1 person

  41. Advanced Research Technology says:

    Dennis, love your work! I’m nominating you for a Sunshine Blogger Award. Here’s the link: http://advancedresearchtechnology.org/2015/12/31/

    Like

  42. Thanks for the follow! Looks like you’re doing great things over here! All the best

    Like

  43. WISHING YOU A JOYOUS FOREVER

    Like

  44. spearfruit says:

    What a wonderful blog – I certainly will take the time to read more. Thank you for following my blog. I hope your day is a happy one! 🙂

    Like

  45. Thank you for caring for the “forgotten.” I have been close to this myself. A subject I wish more people would involve themselves in.

    Like

  46. Thank you for reading my blog, but most importantly thank you for bringing me here! You are doing amazing work for people! Expect Miracles!

    Like

  47. thanks for the response to my poem
    will be returning to your site
    – all the best

    Like

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