Our volunteer of the month for October is Joseph Allen,  known to everyone at Inspiration Corporation as DJ Joe Black. Joe has contributed his talents to dinners and small events at Inspiration Corporation for many years. His regular Saturday night offering at Inspiration Cafe has become quite an attraction. We asked Joe a few questions about what originally brought him to the organization, and what keeps him returning year after year.

How did you hear about Inspiration Corporation?

“My girlfriend Jenny was actively involved in Yelp! and we met Inspiration Corporation staff at a networking event. We were excited to find out about the organization, and meeting Anna (our previous volunteer coordinator) was the clincher. We had to get involved somehow.

It seemed like a cool idea to bring my DJ show to Uptown for the Cafe’s Saturday night dinner service and it’s been well received—increasingly so, thanks to the feedback and requests the diners have shared.”

What is the most enjoyable part of volunteering for you?

“The interaction with the participants and volunteers feels great and something I look forward to all month. And I always have the best dinner, too! This is often the only time I have dinner with friends all week, as I work (sound/graphic design) and live alone. So I figure it could be the only party some of the diners may attend that week, too.”

DJ Joe working his magic at The Living Room Cafe

What aspect of volunteering are you most excited about?

“It’s a kick to listen to someone’s thoughts and requests and then dropping their special songs into the mix. The playlist can get pretty eclectic, and it feels great to share the experience.

Music has been the greatest source of expression and joy for me. When I was a kid, my rock star heroes were generous and kind to me, especially Nick Rhodes from Duran Duran. I was inspired to emulate his theatrical showmanship, as well as professionalism and kindness, commitment to his fans and Pop Art. And that’s why I enjoy volunteering, especially for Inspiration. I wanna be a rock star!”

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

“My favorite experience was Rodney (a millieu manager) allowing me to stay late after dinner service one evening to play Michael Jackson tracks for an especially introverted participant in the Supportive Services program. She really opened up with the music and always requests the best material. Like Adele and Alex Clare before they blew up!

I also enjoyed showing DJ Chris the digital side of spinning—only to have him immediately blow my set away at the volunteer picnic this year!”

What are your hobbies, besides volunteering?

“I love ‘gothy’ pop culture stuff, like Dracula and Batman; old monster movies; my black cat, Luna; rock ’n roll music like Rob Zombie and The Doors. That stuff really resonates with me.”

What have you learned from your volunteer experience?

“I’ve experienced acceptance and kindness from folks that are really struggling to make their way in the world. I relate to their struggle and really admire the hope and dedication I’ve witnessed.”

Thank you Joe for all of your work at Inspiration Corporation. To find out more about him or catch his upcoming work, visit his website at midnightspookshow.com.