Viktor Frankel:Those who have a why for life can bear with almost any how. A purposeful life is a life with dignity.


It’s time to promote self-respect and dignity in the public square. How we treat vulnerable people speaks to our understanding of dignity.

Dignity: the state or quality of being worthy of honour or respect.

I was invited for lunch in Toronto Canada at a place called DANI’s. Never heard of it, but I haven’t lived in Toronto for some time. It is a restaurant behind a community centre. Well, it is far more than a restaurant. It’s mission statement reads:

To create opportunities for adults with physical and/or cognitive challenges so that they can participate fully as valued members of the community and enjoy a meaningful and dignified quality of life.


It is a place to learn to live life with dignity, including working- a hand up and never a handout. It is all about self-respect and a dignified life. DANI’s has been doing this for thirteen years.


DANI stands for “Developing and Nurturing Independence.” Let me repeat that because in our entitled world based on victimhood this is revolutionary: “Developing and Nurturing Independence.”  It is a place for young people with special needs to transition from high school to adulthood and to semi-independence in the home. It is a place that provides a vocational setting, a group setting and a community. Everything needed to develop self-confidence and a sense of purpose.

DANI’s  has  approximately 70 adults in the day program and recreational/ social programs. They support close to 200 families in different ways. More than sixty volunteers participate in the programmes.


DANI has a catering service;a greenhouse where people are trained in agriculture and then sell their products; a gift store where people are taught retail sales, packaging and stocking. DANI’s also provides a unique programme called POP-UP.

The Pop-Up program was created to help the participants develop inventory skills, customer service!  and math/cashier skills and independence. Under the guidance of a chef and trained staff, the adults  pack  lunch items  to sell at a predesignated office (medical, business -such as Coca Cola head office–, school, legal, organization, etc) set up a professional table, wearing professional outfits  and sell lunch items (soups, chili, pasta, quiche, wraps, cookies, salads and more) People buy what they wish. In this way, the adults at DANI’s practice their organizational, financial, kitchen and social skills while creating community connections.In addition, the workers who buy the lunch items benefit. It may the first time that they encounter  an adult  who might have an invisible disability.

DANIs also has a beautiful café/ restaurant.

I had a wonderful lunch, on the patio, overlooking the greenhouse, served by a lovely young lady, whom I found out afterwards has serious psychological problems but flowered at the café.  Young people who would normally not be able to find work learn their way around a kitchen. The experience provided by DANI’s provides the skills needed and a safe place for them to be the best they can be.  I have been back several times.

DANI’s strives to help in the personal development and vocational skills of all their young people in the hope that they will be able to take these skills and go out into the world. And if they cannot, they will have a workplace for as long as they want to work. To fulfil themselves.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission states:

Dignity: Being treated with respect, regardless of the situation, and having a sense of self-esteem e.g., having a sense of self-worth; being accepted as one is, regardless of age, health status, etc.; being appreciated for life accomplishments; being respected for continuing role and contributions to family, friends, community and society; being treated as a worthy human being and a full member of society.



Life with dignity ought to be our rallying cry. People fortunate enough to participate in DANI’s programmes live full lives, filled with dignity.

DANI’s is a not for profit organization. It deserves our help.


From the Ethics of the Fathers: “Rabbi Tarfon used to say, it is not incumbent upon you to complete the task, but you are not exempt from undertaking it.”