A champion of change himself, Frank O'Dea is the chair of our selection committee, the Top Ten Panel.
"It is marvelous that CBC, Manulife and Outpost Magazine have created this opportunity to recognize the power of volunteerism in this country", says Frank, "I am very excited to be a part of it"
Frank is a man who has transformed his own life and since has helped many others transform their lives.
Today, Frank is an Officer of the Order of Canada, and an inspiring speaker and author, who shares the secrets of his business success as a founder of The Second Cup and Proshred Security as well as his life philosophy, "Hope, Vision Action".
Unfortunately, in his teens and early 20's, Frank's life was a mess. He was drinking and panhandling in downtown Toronto, living in 50-cent-a-night flop houses.
After his years lost in despair and in a downward spiral, Frank found in himself the courage and desire to change his life. At 23 years of age he began the long road back. Gradually he rejoined society, overcoming the obstacles that hold back the homeless.
While his will to change was strong, Frank admits there's more to his turnaround. Explains Frank "If it weren't for the individual volunteers who were there for me when I was down and out and helped me to make my journey back, I would not be here today".
Before he was 30 years old, he co-founded Second Cup, starting out with just one shop in a Toronto mall, which grew into a chain of stores stretching across Canada and into the United States. He sold his interest in the coffee chain and moved on to found Proshred Security, a company that pioneered the entire industry of on-site document destruction. By the time he sold that business to a group of investors, Proshred had become an international organization with franchised operations in Canada, Europe and the United States.
Even as Frank was transforming his life into the picture of success, he was looking at the big picture of how he could help others. Frank began serving on the boards of directors of charities and not-for-profit organizations. This led to his co-founding Street Kids International, an organization developed to help homeless children in third world countries, through education and self-reliance programs. A few years later, he became the founding Chair of War Child (Canada), an organization that provides assistance against suffering and abuse for children in war affected countries. In the same year, Frank co-founded the Canadian Landmine Foundation, an organization that raises funds and awareness for the dismantling of minefields around the world.
Frank is currently the Chair of the Foundation of Royal Roads University in Victoria BC; Chair of Invest-in-Kids in Toronto; and founding Chair of AGSI Global, a developer of public-private partnerships for green housing in Latin America, using Canadian technology.
Now, Frank's excited about helping establish Canada's Champions of Change.
"I am looking forward to the search for the 10 nominees who, in effect, will be representative of the values of tens of thousands of Canadians everywhere who volunteer their time and their efforts to make a difference.