Nothing to do with DS, but this lady is My HERO!

The Inspiration Cafe was started by a Chicago beat cop, Lisa Nigro, with a passion for recognizing the sovereignty and dignity of people, even those society has cast out. It started with her carting around a little red wagon to carry around sandwiches and bagels to the homeless in Chicago. From there she set up the Inspiration Cafe.

The Inspiration Cafe was a restaurant for the homeless. Lisa recognized the fact that not only did the homeless deserve a hot meal, but that they deserved to eat it with the same amount of dignity that the rest of us do. This was not a soup kitchen, but rather a working restaurant. Volunteers plan the menu for a given meal, prep it, cook it, serve it, and clean up afterwards. There were usually even a couple of choices, so you would take their order like any server would, and they would have options, like any restaurant patron would. She also offered NA and AA meetings, social services and counseling, job placement, and worked to get people back on their feet, clean, self sufficient, and in a home of their very own. Such an amazing concept. And she rocked it!

She now has three cafes, 75 employees, and 800 volunteers. Lisa truly is an inspirational person. She has even given jobs to many folks who were once patrons themselves. She is the embodiment of compassion and ingenuity.

Before I had the pleasure of being Lila's mother, I was involved in many volunteer opportunities. Now that she is older, combined with the support of my family, I am able to pursue one of my passions and volunteer again. Last Monday I was initiated into the Junior Women's Club of Loudoun. My volunteer opportunities for this month are Meals on Wheels, VSA (Very Special Arts) and Prom Wishes- providing prom dresses, shoes, purses, jewelry and other prom-related items for young ladies that otherwise might not have prom attire. The mission statement for this organization is:

"I pledge my loyalty to Junior Women's Club by doing better than before the work that I have to do; by being prompt,honest, courteous, by living each day, trying to accomplish something, not merely to exist."

I am so excited to be volunteering again. Volunteerism...... pass it on.

P.S. Thanks to my friend Pam for introducing me to the Junior Women's Club of Loudoun. I probably wouldn't have found it on my own.



  1. It's always been my dream to be able to quit my job and spend my life volunteering. What a wonderful thing to do! I hope you'll have lots of interesting, feel-good stories to tell.

  2. What a cute little girl you hsve!She looks closer in age to my Eva! Thanks for finding me! I love to meet new people that have DS in common.

  3. (Tried to post this yesterday and it wouldn't let me. So i saved it and I'm trying again...I'm persistent, I win.!.)

    the story about the Cafe is freakin awesome.

    You volunteering again is an amazing opportunity and blessing. Sometimes I'm not sure if it has a greater effect on those being helped or the volunteers themselves, either way I think both are deeply affected.
    I'm glad you have the ability to volunteer again, I know you how you love it!
    I'm glad for Pam.
    I'm glad for the Loudoun Women Club for Juniors!
    I'm glad for selflessness, service, and love in the world.

    G-d is good.