Our volunteer of the month for September is Mark Carlson! Even though Mark has been volunteering with Inspiration Corporation for about a year, his impact on the organization has been tremendous. Mark cooks breakfast twice per week at Inspiration Cafe, where he’s known for his specialty pancakes and homemade hash brown potatoes.

Mark is recently retired, and is spending his time volunteering with several groups. We asked him a few questions about his experience and appreciation of Inspiration Corporation.

Mark Carlson and Keith H. in the kitchen

How did you hear about Inspiration Corporation?

I found out about Inspiration Corporation from my friend, Cindy McGarrigle.   She knew I enjoyed cooking and I had just retired.

What is the most enjoyable part of volunteering for you?

I love to cook.  Throughout high school and college, I was a cook in a restaurant; it’s the best job I ever had.

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

The best part of volunteering are the people I meet and work with.  The biggest challenge is my quest for the perfect omelet.

What is your volunteer background?

I retired a year ago.  In addition to volunteering with Inspiration Corporation, I also volunteer at C.A.R.E. (Evanston Animal Shelter), Evanston Public Library, and Bugles Across America.  In addition, my wife and I are volunteer ushers at the Goodman and Steppenwolf Theaters.

Why do you volunteer?

I volunteer because it’s good to give back to the community.  Besides, it’s fun!

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

As a volunteer bugler, I perform Taps at funeral services for military veterans.  On one mission, I played for the memorial service of a WWII Army veteran.  He had been an Army bugler during the war in Europe.

What are your hobbies, besides volunteering?

Gardening, photography, travel, and yes of course… cooking!