Let’s hear it for Susie B., Our November Volunteer of the Month! For 17 years, Susie has been volunteering on Thanksgiving day to help prep and cook a feast for our participants, eventually turning it into a family tradition. Check out her story below:

How did you hear about Inspiration Corporation?

17 years ago the Steinfels family invited my then 5 year old Charlie, his younger sister Isabelle, and me to help with the morning prep for the Thanksgiving Feast that their family traditionally prepared and served at the Inspiration Cafe. We arrived early on Thanksgiving  morning and peeled potatoes, prepared salads, and folded napkins for the dinner.  The kids and I loved  learning  about the Inspiration story and having the opportunity to participate.  As the years went by, the Steinfels family transitioned the Thanksgiving Feast preparation tradition from their family to my growing family.  In addition to my 5 children and me, we have in turn included the wider community of the Sacred Heart Schools to join us in this wonderful tradition.  Our efforts would not be possible if it were not for the Sacred Heart Schools faculty and staff.  Each year they generously provide all of the food and supplies needed for us to be able to cook 6 Turkeys, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, cranberries, green bean casserole and of course pies galore!  We are able to provide a full dinner service for the Inspiration Cafe community and even have enough for beloved leftovers! It truly is a Bountiful Feast!

What is the most enjoyable part of volunteering for you?

I feel truly blessed that my family serves alongside the Inspiration cafe and Sacred Heart communities each Thanksgiving day.  No matter what road each us has taken to be there, we spend the day working together for a common goal.  There is much excitement throughout the day in preparing the different dishes.  It is so rewarding to know that through our efforts each Inspiration guest has the opportunity to sit down to Thanksgiving dinner and feel loved, respected, and valued in this community.

What aspect of volunteering are you most excited about? What is the most challenging?

The most exciting thing each Thanksgiving morning is walking in to the cafe with all of the groceries and supplies and exchanging hugs with Willy and Keith before we begin our cooking.  Believe it or not, the biggest challenge seems to be the cranberry preparation.  With such a large quantity in the pot, I am always worried we will end up with cranberry soup, rather than relish.

What is your volunteer background?

I grew up in the Chicagoland area, and my family always valued the importance of serving in our community.  I  have volunteered in many capacities over my lifetime and with many different organizations, however my work at Inspiration is the the longest standing opportunity I have participated in to date.  I believe the same is true for my children.

Why do you volunteer?

I believe that  we never know what challenges or obstacles may arise along our journey through life. It is hard to know what the impact on us will be, nor how we will respond.  I also believe that through compassion and the willingness to form positive bonds with each other, each of us can find a deeper meaning and purpose in life.  For me, service is one of the best ways to be do this.

Describe one of the most interesting experiences you’ve had as a volunteer.

I have 5 children.  At the age of 16, each of them is charged with organizing the Thanksgiving day efforts.  They must schedule volunteers, gather recipes, prepare the grocery list for contributions needed, etc.  I try to guide each of them and let them learn through their experience, while sometimes sweating the details.  In the end, Thanksgiving dinner has always been served on time and with plenty of food, in spite of my worries.

What are your hobbies, besides volunteering? 

I love to cook and read, and in the summer spend time working on my rooftop garden.

What have you learned from your volunteer experience?

There is a powerful sense of community belonging each and every time I volunteer.  Through my volunteer opportunities at Inspiration, I am reminded how many gifts we receive every day from those who touch our lives.