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Uptown Chairty Brings Inspiration to Homeless

Awning in the front of inspiration Corporation

Each night more than 5,000 Chicagoans will not have a home to sleep in; instead they will attempt to find a shelter to stay in or a safe place to sleep on the street. This is an issue that the Inspiration Corporationis dedicated to ending. The Inspiration Corporation is an organization that helps people who face homelessness to increase their self-sufficiency through various supportive services such as job training for work in the culinary field, and access to a case manager, as well as housing assistance.

The Inspiration Corporation was founded in 1989 when Lisa Nigro decided to borrow her nephew’s red wagon and fill it with coffee and sandwiches that she then delivered to homelessness people living in the Uptown neighborhood. Over time, Inspiration Corporation out grew the wagon. Nigro’s work soon caught the attention of the Uptown neighborhood and Chicago media. Nigro then moved Inspiration Corporation into an Uptown storefront and became a restaurant for the homeless.

From the start, Nigro’s vision was to treat homeless people with respect and dignity and that is something that permeates through all of Inspiration Corporation’s services now.

“Inspiration Corporation was there for me. They didn’t make me feel ashamed of what happened,” said John, who preferred to keep his last name private. John had been a warehouse worker in Humbolt Park before he was laid off due to his company’s relocation. John was now subjected to homelessness. Through his work with Inspiration Corporation he was able to find new work and become fully self-reliant once again.

Soup of the day made by Inspiration Corporation students.

Antoinette Breen, a volunteer at Inspiration Corporation, says that she loves being able to directly work with the people she wants to help.

“I don’t have a lot of money to give people, but I feel like I can make a huge difference by giving my time and showing all these wonderful people that they are worth my time and I care about them all,” Breen said.

Breen has been volunteering for three years now and was inspired to volunteer after she lost her job and realized how incredibly important all the support she got from her friends and family was in her finding a new job.

Charity Navigator, an organization that analyzes and rates not-for-profits, has given Inspiration Corporation a 67.69 out of 70 rating. This rating is produced from analyses of the financial statements and policies of Inspiration Corporation. These ratings help people understand how efficient a charity is with their money.

“Every person is special and worth our help,” said Breen, “everyone deserves a second chance and to be able to stand on their own two feet and be proud of who they are.”


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The Hub Bub is a collection of articles, videos, audio, photo slideshows, interactive maps and other media produced by students enrolled in journalism courses at Loyola University Chicago's School of Communication. For more about the School of Communication, our award winning faculty, and our state of the art facilities located in the heart of Chicago, visit our website.