We’re happy to introduce Rena, a dedicated volunteer who has been serving meals every week in our cafe for the last 5 years!  It’s been wonderful having Rena here to serve breakfast every Friday, and we’re so thankful for all of her hard work and support!

How did you hear about Inspiration Corporation?

In the summer of 2011, I met a friend of the founder of Inspiration Corporation. I mentioned my interest in doing volunteer work and that I was looking for a local organization, and she told me about Inspiration Corporation. After looking into it, I soon signed up for the volunteer orientation. A few months later at a volunteer dinner, I met Lisa Nigro in person and told her that I heard about IC through word of mouth.Rena Ceron_October 2016

What is the most enjoyable part of volunteering for you?

I enjoy meeting new people, from the guests/participants to staff members and fellow volunteers. I find it interesting to learn about people’s backgrounds and to discuss their goals and challenges. I like being there each week to give them encouragement, hear their news, and, in turn, share what is going on in my life. I am also fortunate to be part of a group that volunteers regularly on the same day each week, which has really bonded us. My husband and I have made some good friends while volunteering at Inspiration Café together over the past few years.

What aspect of volunteering are you most excited about?

I enjoy volunteering at a place that not only serves badly needed meals, but also encourages people to move forward and improve their lives in all ways. It might start out with the simple idea of choosing a special breakfast item, and this could lead to making the choice about a future job. It is very exciting to see how many options are presented thanks to IC.

What is your volunteer background?

Before moving to Chicago, I volunteered regularly at a community lunch program with my former church in New York City. We served a meal once a month, rotating with other faith communities each week. Through this church I also worked on some Habitat for Humanity projects in different parts of New York City. And I participated in a mission trip to Louisiana to help rebuild a community after hurricane Katrina.

Why do you volunteer?

I volunteer to give back to the community. I believe it is really important to share your gifts of time and talent with others.

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

I was a Mock Interviewer for the Employment Project a few years ago and I was delighted to see people in the community and at the café, after doing their mock interviews. It gave me the chance to ask them how they were doing and to learn about the next steps they planned to take. It was also very interesting and exciting when I ran into a former interviewee working at a local business!

What are your hobbies, besides volunteering?

My other hobbies include: singing with a church choir, music, distance running, biking, yoga, traveling, and reading.

What have you learned from your volunteer experience?

Through volunteering, I have learned to be more compassionate and to have more patience in all aspects of my life. Meeting our participants/guests at IC also has made me more aware of the many challenges that people face that others often do not know about.