It is with great sadness that we write to inform our network of friends and supporters that Margaret Haywood, our former Senior Director of Workforce Development, passed away on Sept. 13, 2018.  Margaret had battled cancer for four years, and had continued her tireless work to support Chicagoans affected by homelessness and poverty with Inspiration Corporation until August of this year.

Margaret dedicated 16 years of service, support, and expertise to Inspiration Corporation, and many more years to other worthy organizations in Chicago providing opportunity to under-served people.

Among her many accomplishments at our agency, Margaret was the pioneer behind the Inspiration Kitchens Foodservice Training program, helping to pilot the program in 2001 out of the Inspiration Cafe in Uptown.  Margaret guided the program as it outgrew our small cafe and became a standalone restaurant in Uptown (then called Cafe Too), and eventually a training center, social enterprise restaurant, and catering business in East Garfield Park.

Since the very first class of graduates headed out into the world to find jobs at restaurants, catering companies, and cafeterias across the city, we know that over 650 men and women have gained employment, dignity, and a brighter future through Inspiration Kitchens.  While we mourn Margaret’s passing, we know that each one of these people is carrying the spark that she helped ignite in them out into the world.

We will all greatly miss Margaret’s presence in our lives.  Our offices are a dimmer place without her wit and humor to brighten them.

The Margaret Haywood Initiative Award

In consultation with Margaret before she stopped working, and in order to honor her lasting legacy at our agency, we are today pleased to announce that Andrew is the first recipient of the Margaret Haywood Initiative Award.  Fortunately, Margaret knew that we made the first presentation of the award at last month’s Foodservice Training graduation to this star graduate who she had personally helped see through the program.

This Award is given to Inspiration Kitchens graduates who have demonstrated in their own conduct Margaret’s determined pursuit of personal growth and attention to the development of others.  These graduates possess a passion for hard work and resilience in the face of life’s obstacles.

Andrew is one such graduate.  During his time in the kitchen, Andrew consistently took initiative to learn new things and strengthen his culinary skills.  During his transitional job, Andrew mentored new students on the restaurant line and continued to improve his speed and efficiency.  His warm and energetic personality makes whatever kitchen he is working in a truly positive place to work.

Shortly after graduating, Andrew landed a job as a prep cook at Blackwood BBQ.  Next month, he will celebrate his one-year anniversary at the restaurant, and two promotions later he now works as Blackwood BBQ’s Pit Master where he is responsible for preparing the company’s many varieties of barbecue.

We could not think of a candidate more deserving, and more capable of honoring Margaret’s legacy, to receive the first ever Margaret Haywood Initiative Award.