Elizabeth in the kitchen

In Chicago, a vibrant city that offers such a wide variety of dining experiences, imagine not being able to enjoy the simple pleasure of going out, having a meal and being served.

50,000 of our fellow residents live in homeless shelters every year. Many of these people struggle with mental illness or have lost a job and are unable to afford rent. In these circumstances, it can be difficult to secure food for the evening, let alone a pricey restaurant meal.


This year for my Regifting challenge I chose Inspiration Corporation, an organization that helps people affected by homelessness and poverty by providing resources to increase self-sufficiency through social services, employment, training, housing and meals. Specifically, I donated my time and $500 to the Inspiration Café in the Uptown neighborhood. The Café, the heart and soul of the organization, provides full meals to participants, prepared and served by volunteers in a restaurant setting. Not only can participants enjoy a meal, but they receive counseling and support in identifying personal goals which include finding stable housing and job opportunities.

Cooking in the Inspiration Café

At the Café, breakfast is served Monday through Friday, and dinner is served Monday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Participants are able to order from an ever-changing menu of fresh and unique ingredients. Connecting back to my love of food and passion for cooking, I chose to spend an evening at the Café cooking dinner alongside the head chef, Chef Kyle. With Chef’s leadership, I pulled pork off the bone for sliders and chopped and prepared salad, all to be served alongside turkey chili, roasted vegetables and pumpkin cake. It was a busy evening, volunteers took orders and we swiftly served a warm and hearty meal to over 40 people. It was entirely rewarding to get back into a commercial kitchen and share my talents and I plan to stay involved with the organization and go back and cook again.

The Inspiration Corporation will continue to need support following the holidays. For more information on how you can help or ways your donation can make an impact, visit http://www.inspirationcorp.org/