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Second Chance - on the way to the Second Cup - Thanks to a volunteer
June 4th, 2014

 “My life has been touched by volunteers, those who helped me personally and by volunteers who are responsible for the success of the many projects that I have been involved with, such as the Canadian Land Mine Foundation. This is a story that I have told often. It is about one volunteer who made a difference to me, personally.

There was a turning point during my life on the streets when I finally realized I needed help and I knew of a place that I could call for help. I went out to the street, begging for money. I had done this many times before, trying to put enough money together for a cheap bottle of wine.  This time was different. All I wanted was a dime. I don’t remember much about the phone call I made. I only remember my desperation. The person on the other end told me to come on over to a place on Yonge Street, not far from where I was.

It was a beat up old building, that I am sure is long gone now, and I dragged myself up the stairs. I must have been quite a sight as I came to the top; bedraggled, unkempt, probably hadn’t washed or shaven for several days and wearing clothes that I had slept in for weeks.

As I stopped on the way up, to catch my breath, my fear of going forward almost caused me to retreat back down the stairs, but desperation kept me going. When I walked into the room at the top, a small woman with white hair looked up, and I blurted out, “I need help”.

Un-judgmental and unafraid, this volunteer looked up at me and said “You’re home”.

After all of the rejection, and all of the chaos that I had caused in my own life, this woman, who I came to know as Marg, gave me something that I had not had in a very long time. She enabled me to have hope.

Over time, I went on to meet other volunteers who helped me immensely along the way. As for Marg, I am sure that I was just one of many, and she probably would not have remembered me a week later. But I will always remember her, and the difference she made in my life”

A speech by Frank O'Dea will be a highlight of your event.


Frank's inspiring story is retold in his best-selling memoir "When All You Have is Hope", available in bookstores and online. Buy a copy for someone who is important to you.

See and hear excerpts of speeches by Frank O'Dea