Most people probably wouldn’t assume, that before becoming the co-founder of Canada’s popular chain of Second Cup coffee houses, Frank O’Dea, was actually collecting money in a coffee cup, while he lived as a homeless panhandler on the streets of Toronto.
Sexually abused as a child, he eventually turned to alcohol and began begging for money, while sleeping in 50-cent flophouse beds. But by the age of 23, he made what was to be the biggest shift in his life. As he says in his autobiography When All You Have Is Hope his main motto for life became “hope, vision, action.” Overcoming daunting obstacles, O’Dea went from destitute and homeless, back into society. Within a few years, he was the successful co-founder of Second Cup.
He has gone on to lead other successful businesses and is an active philanthropist. He is currently the Chair of PureRay Corporation, President of ARXX Building Products, and Chair of Royal Roads University Foundation. O’Dea’s charity work includes AIDS fundraising, child literacy in the Third World and landmine removal. O’Dea is also the founding President of Renascent Treatment Foundation and founder of Street Kids International. He helps kids who are at a financial disadvantage with getting opportunities to improve their situation through a variety of means including university loans as well as helping them find small business grants to young promising entrepreneurs like he once was.