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Carlos Candiotti

Team Leader
J.A. DeSève Residence

We often say that Maison du Père is much more than an emergency shelter. It also aims to stabilize the life of the people from the streets in the long term. One of the departments that contribute to this task is the J.A. DeSève Residence, an officially accredited seniors' residence of 87 private rooms housing previously homeless men. To discover the work of the Residence, what better than an interview with Carlos, the invaluable team leader of the Residence workers.

Carlos is a man of medium height, markedly polite, with a gaze that reflects his concern for others. He speaks softly, with an accent that sings, from South America. Seated at a table in a small room on the 2nd floor of the building, with a warm voice, he shares with us his life journey and his experience at Maison du Père.

A teacher by training, Carlos also has a bachelor’s degree in drug addiction, mental health and gerontology. He has been at Maison du Père since 2006, first as a volunteer, then as a worker, and finally as the team leader at the Residence. It was in Lima, Peru (his home country) that he discovered his vocation to help the elderly. In 1988, he began to provide weekly spiritual support to the elderly and sick of his parish as a volunteer. He supported these people there for years, sometimes even helping organize their funerals.

He then taught from 1992 and for 10 years in the heart of the forest, in a small village school on the shore of the Amazon River, in the northeast of the country, near Brazil. Afterwards, he taught from 1992 in a school located near the border with Brazil, for 10 years, in the heart of the forest, in a village without electricity. At this school, he learned to promote the well-being of both students and parents. This school therefore taught him, in turn, the skills necessary to work at Maison du Père. "There, I saw that it is the person that is the priority. A school exists for whom? For the students. It taught me to draw the parallel. Here, Maison du Père exists for whom? For me? No. It exists for the men, for the residents. My mission here is to alleviate suffering. …to bring a little peace, above all. If we can bring some hope, why not?”, he adds.

At the Residence, Carlos brings hope to men from many different backgrounds. For example, some have drug addiction or mental health issues. Some have been sent to the streets after living in inexpensive but deteriorated housing, sometimes infested with bedbugs. "Sometimes that will increase the stress, which can increase the use of drugs or alcohol. It’s like a vicious circle that is hard to get out of. Others have been on the streets for a long time, but health problems make it impossible to continue this way of life.

Upon arrival, each resident is assigned a worker, who takes care of their physical and mental health. After settling in, an intervention plan is developed with him, with the goal of obtaining his personal commitment to find a solution to his problems. In addition, we make sure that he obtains a family doctor, we attend to his medical file follow-up and we ensure the stabilization of his health by the proper administration of his prescription drugs.


Also, he is offered several activities: yoga, pétanque, pool, gardening, reading, photography, walks, outdoor activities, etc. Some services are available as well, such as hairdressing, massage therapy or preparation of eyeglasses. There is also “la visite amicale”, the friendly visit: volunteers visit residents periodically to play cards, play chess, or to simply talk, and there are the much appreciated visits from Argon, the friendly and tireless support dog of Maison du Père.

Finally, there are more intangible benefits that residents find at Maison du Père, sometimes without even looking for them. "Initially, perhaps, the motivation (for the men who come to live at the Residence) is to find a place to sleep, to eat… not too expensive. Carlos says. “But afterwards, I see that the person will change their motivation. Because they will find a home here, some friends, a new family, some people to take care of them... they will become attached."


He continues: “In the street, you’re nobody. No one is looking at you. A user once told me... that a member of his family walked past him in the street without noticing him. It was his father,” Carlos remembers, deeply moved. But at Maison du Père, such an individual “is greeted by name, and people smile at him. The person "becomes" a person. He says, 'This is me'. …there was someone who wanted to leave, and after a few weeks of reflection he came to tell me that he was going to stay. Because here, he is someone. Here, he is recognized." This is one of the essential contributions brought to the men of Maison du Père.

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