Inspiration Corporation’s Original Program
We served more than 26,000 meals in our cafes and 6,000 visits to our food pantries last year.
Located in Uptown on Chicago’s north side, Inspiration Cafe is Inspiration Corporation’s original program. The Cafe provides restaurant-style meals to homeless or low-income men, women, and families in a therapeutic community that promotes dignity and respect. All meals are cooked and served by volunteers. Inspiration Cafe is open only to participants in Inspiration Corporation’s programs or individuals enrolled in case management with partner agencies, all of whom are working on stability by increasing income and/or becoming permanently and stably housed.
In addition to offering meals, Inspiration Cafe operates a food pantry that is open to Inspiration Corporation participants.
How It Started
Inspiration Cafe was founded in 1989 by Lisa Nigro, a Chicago police officer who began searching for a personal response to the homelessness she encountered in Uptown. She began by loading up a red wagon with sandwiches and coffee to distribute to homeless individuals on the streets. Today, the Cafe is still the heart and soul of the thriving organization, which has grown up around it.
EJ is one of Inspiration Corporation’s most active participants.
Part of the Wilson Men’s Hotel program, EJ’s commitment to self-improvement serves as a shining example for others. With the help of Inspiration Corporation, he has earned his foodservice sanitation license and is currently pursuing establishing his own non-profit in addition to holding down two jobs. EJ believes he “couldn’t ask for a better program.” EJ now has his own apartment and a very bright future.