Each Thursday Afternoon, our Clinical Case Manager, Danny Meloy invites participants and staff to join him at Inspiration Cafe for casual conversation and leisurely activities in a weekly event series we’ve dubbed “Coffee with Danny”. The coffee is generously donated by our long-time supporters at Metropolis Coffee Company, and the event is a concept created by Danny as part of our Basic Outreach and Engagement program. The weekly event provides participants with a place for social interaction, while giving staff an opportunity to model those social skills.

Danny (pictured right) with Inspiration Corporation participant, Bob.

The Basic Outreach and Engagement Program is designed to reach out to homeless people in and around the Uptown neighborhood in order to connect them with a wide range of services, and help them move from homelessness to housing.  Funded by the City of Chicago, this program is open to individuals who meet the HUD definition of homelessness, including people staying in shelters, or living in places not meant for human habitation.  We’ve enrolled 24 people through the outreach program since March, already reaching the total enrollment goal for 2017 that was set by the city.

The idea of sharing coffee as part of our mission goes as far back as the organization’s inception, when founder Lisa Nigro walked around Uptown, passing out coffee and engaging in conversation with people on the street. The ability to continue this tradition within the walls of Inspiration Cafe is one of the things that adds to the uniquely inviting atmosphere of our Meals program.

“I wanted to start Coffee with Danny because there are essential benefits to social interaction,” says Danny. “The brain does weird positive things when we are socially active.  The people who I work with are often so stigmatized and pushed to the margins and ignored, that they begin to feel that they don’t have a place in this neighborhood, often going days or weeks without saying more than a few words to people.  Having the cafe as a place to socialize and have fun is an important part of feeling dignity and worth.”