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Inspiration Corporation: An Inspired Evening

Inspiration Corporation Staff and Interns

During this holiday season of charity, one Chicago organization has a unique approach to putting the area’s homeless back on their feet. Inspiration Corporation provides homeless individuals culinary training, housing, meals, and job readiness programs.  Loyola University’s School of Communication recently held a fundraiser titled, “Home for the Holidays: An Inspired Evening”, to benefit the organization.   President of Inspiration Corporation, Neal Kulick, shared the organization’s goal at the fundraiser.

“Inspiration Corporation mission is to help people who are homeless or in extreme poverty get their lives together,” Kulick said. “Help them get education, help them get employment, help them get housing so they can live happier, healthier, independent lives.”

According to Kulick, he hopes the program will benefit more than just the individual.

“When we can partner with one of our clients or students and help them find and achieve independence, it not only helps them it helps their families, their children, and I think all of us as a community,” Kulick said.

Currently Inspiration Corporation offers employment programs, job readiness programs, and a 13-week culinary skills program.  Inspiration Corporation owns  two social enterprise restaurants that provide employment opportunities to their culinary interns.  According to Kulick, his team works to prepare these individuals for the real world.

“We work with their resume and do mock interviewing,” Kulick said.  “They are really ready to hit the employment marketplace and get jobs.

“An Inspired Evening” featured raffle as well as silent auction items.  Inspiration Corporation interns and staff were also on hand to share some of the dishes they have learned to prepare under the organization’s guidance. Jason Hearth, an Inspiration Corporation cooking intern, discussed how the program has brightened his future.

“I’ve been in the internship for two months now,” Hearth said. 

Hearth shared that he has been cooking since he was a child, however Inspiration Corporation was his first chance to work in a kitchen.

Definitely love every minute of it, it’s great experience,” Hearth said.  “It’s definitely something that I love to do.  It’s definitely something that you can never stop learning about.”

The Inspiration Corporation restaurants can be found in Uptown and Garfield Park.  Kulick spoke to the quality of the restaurants his corporation runs.

“They are wonderful restaurants, our students do the cooking, and our staff help,” Kulick said. “The food is terrific and it’s BYOB.”

According to Kulick, not only do these restaurants collect good reviews on Yelp, they provide his clients with invaluable experience.

“The most important thing it provides our students is an opportunity to work in a real restaurant, a transitional job environment,” Kulick said.  “It really helps them understand what it’s like to be in a restaurant and it prepares them for their future.”

Inspiration Corporation served over 6,000 meals last year and placed 200 individuals into employment.  Currently Inspiration Corporation provides over 160 units of housing.  Housing is something that Kulick believes is vital for the individual.

“Without stable housing it’s almost impossible for a person to become independent and get a job and get employment,” Kulick said. “It’s very important that it be part of our portfolio.

Loyola’s “Inspired Evening” came together by chance at a Ferrari Club of America Fundraiser.  Zach Zimmerman, a Loyola senior, happened to meet Kulick and the two began discussing Inspiration Corporation.  Zimmerman was enrolled in a Public Service Communication class that was in need of a benefactor.  According to Zimmerman, his group wanted to go above and beyond what the syllabus required.

“It’s kind of like a senior thesis course in a way where we have to apply everything we’ve learned over the last four years in order to deliver a final communication project,” Zimmerman said. “But our group, we’re a bunch of overachievers by nature and we wanted to go above and beyond. So we decided to do a big event rather than doing just a press release or a social media campaign or something like that.” 

Zimmerman and his team worked relentlessly for two months to put together donors for the raffle and auctions items.  The event featured a variety of different auction items ranging from a gift cards to various spots on campus to a boat ride for six on Lake Michigan.  Zimmerman said his team did this deliberately.

“We wanted to have things college students could buy as well as adults,” Zimmerman said. “We just wanted to make sure we offered a lot of different things.  We really thought about our target demographic before we went about going after our donors.

While Zimmerman’s goal is to raise money for Inspiration Corporation, he believes there’s something else to shoot for.

“Really it’s about awareness,” Zimmerman said.  “Not a lot of people know about Inspiration Corporation on campu0s.  Thankfully through our social media campaigning and through basically talking to other people they’ve become aware of it and know what it’s all about.  If we can raise some money and also raise some awareness on campus, that’s really the goal.”

Inspiration Corporation’s next event will be held March 8th.  The fundraiser will feature an art auction.  If you are interested in donating a piece, making a monetary donation, or would just like more information click here.

Check out this video to hear more from Zimmerman and see footage of “Home for the Holidays:An Inspired Evening”.

 

 

Photo Courtesy of Inspiration Corporation

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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.