James has his PhD in Chemistry, and was working steadily as a college professor. But, after both of his parents died a few months apart from each other, he fell into a depression, and lost his job. Without work for two years, he enrolled in the Foodservice Training program, and is turning his life around.
The Cafe provides restaurant-style meals to homeless or poor men, women and families in a therapeutic community that promotes dignity and respect. All meals are cooked and served by volunteers. Inspiration Cafe is open only to participants in Inspiration Corporation's programs, all of whom are working on stability by increasing income and/or becoming permanently and stably housed.
In addition to offering meals, Inspiration Cafe operates a food pantry that is open to Inspiration Corporation participants.
Inspiration Cafe was founded in 1989 by Lisa Nigro, a Chicago police officer who began searching for a personal response to the homelessness she encountered in Uptown. She began by loading up a red wagon with sandwiches and coffee to distribute to homeless individuals on the streets. Today, the Cafe is still the heart and soul of the thriving organization, which has grown up around it.