Join us in celebrating our June Volunteer of the Month, Natalie! Not only does Natalie support Inspiration Corporation as a member of our Board of Directors, but she also comes in several times a month to serve breakfast in our cafe. We appreciate her dedication to our participants and our mission! You can learn more about Natalie by reading below:
How did you hear about Inspiration Corporation?
Through Inspiration Kitchen, our restaurant in Garfield Park! I was so impressed with the food, service, and mission behind the meal.
What is the most enjoyable part of volunteering for you?
I joined our Board of Directors in 2016 and I really enjoy spending time with the clients we serve. Getting to know them on a personal level allows me to offer a more educated point of view when evaluating our programs and services.
What aspect of volunteering are you most excited about? What is the most challenging?
I volunteer in the morning and I really enjoy helping people have a great start to their day! We offer an environment of dignity and respect, no matter what people are experiencing outside the Cafe they can have a great cup of coffee, good conversation, and a fresh cooked meal with us. The most challenging part is keeping up! It’s fast paced and we strive to provide 5 star service to everyone.
What is your volunteer background?
I first started volunteering in high school at a home for adults with disabilities. Then my senior year I had the opportunity to travel to Ecuador with a group of doctors where we spent time in clinics and orphanages. I volunteered with the Boys and Girls Club in college where I enjoyed helping students get their homework done (and have some fun!). When I moved to Chicago in 2005 I started volunteering with an after school tutoring program and was fortunate to partner with the same young woman from 2nd grade through high school. My company (LinkedIn) has a strong culture of giving back and provides many opportunities to do so (on and off site), including 1 Friday off every month to volunteer! While I really enjoy the 1-off volunteer experiences offered through friends, work, etc – finding something you can do long term allows you to really understand the community you are serving.
Why do you volunteer?
I believe in making the world a better place through actions. If you aren’t in a position right now to volunteer and/or donate – there are small things you can do everyday that have a big impact; say hello and smile at people (especially the person asking you for change!), donate old items, buy ethical products, don’t litter, give up your spot on the train to someone who needs it more, hold the door for the person behind you, educate yourself on different cultures, etc.
Describe one of the most interesting experiences you’ve had as a volunteer.
I didn’t recognize a guest one morning because he had a fresh shave + haircut, new shirt, and gigantic smile on his face – he had been sleeping on the street for 12 years until Inspiration Corporation helped him find housing! He’s an incredibly giving man who is always stepping up to volunteer himself, it was amazing to see his transformation!
What are your hobbies, besides volunteering?
I’m a huge animal lover! If I’m not taking pictures of or pampering our 4 fur babies, you can find me riding bikes, going to the beach (my husband swims while I collect beach glass), tending to my succulent garden, embroidering, catching a concert, or enjoying a good meal!
What have you learned from your volunteer experience?
If you take time to get to know people who seem different from you, you’ll find how much we all have in common.