The Participant Leadership Forum (PLF) convened on Thursday, April 19 at Inspiration Cafe for its monthly meeting.  PLF Co-Chairs Lacey H., Tria R. and Kimberlee J. were in attendance, along with 10 other Inspiration Corporation participants and four staff members.

Safety at Inspiration Cafe

Early discussion focused on recent safety concerns at Inspiration Cafe regarding conflicts between participants.  Chief Programs Officer, Jennifer Miller Rehfeldt took questions regarding the Grievance Process and Suspension Policy.  Specifically, the PLF voiced concern that no provision exists for participant versus participant grievances.  Jennifer assured the PLF that talks are underway to develop a policy for staff supported mediation between participants in conflict.

Participants in attendance also voiced concerns that individuals not involved in Inspiration Corporation programming have been regularly entering Inspiration Cafe and using the washrooms and other Cafe facilities during high-traffic weekend meals.  Suggested solutions included re-implementing an ID badge system, a Cafe sign-in system, or posting PLF “greeters” at the Cafe doors during weekend meals.  Inspiration Corporation staff voiced concerns about cost involved in an ID system, and Jennifer plans to take up the discussion with the milieu managers at their next meeting.

Qualifications for Participant Leadership Forum Chairs

Housing Retention Specialist, Karl Greene explained recent adjustments to qualifications for nominees for chairmanship of the PLF.  Due to the decrease in the total number of annual meetings, the requirement has been set at four total meetings attended during the previous fiscal year.  An understanding of the mission statement and statement of purpose for the PLF are the other requirements.

Two seats are currently available on the PLF, and the election will take place at the June meeting.  Chairs requested that nominations be raised by May 31 for consideration.

Mentorship Opportunity

Vice President of External Affairs, Diane Pascal presented information regarding a proposed project to provide volunteer opportunities and mentorship for at-risk youth coming from the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice.  Four to eight young men would volunteer at an Inspiration Corporation site, paired with an Inspiration Corporation mentor.

The PLF expressed interest in the partnership.  Co-Chairs will meet to discuss further on May 10 and come to a decision.  More information and details on what this project would look like including length of commitment and potential for training was requested.

Other Business

Participants expressed interest in creating more opportunities for new Inspiration Corporation participants to integrate into the Cafe community through meet-and-greet events, official introductions by milieu managers, and participant mentorship.

Upcoming Meetings
  • Community Meeting – Apr 26
  • Co-Chair Meeting – May 10
  • Next PLF Meeting – May 17

“The fact that a great many people believe something is no guarantee of its truth.” – W. Somerset Maugham