Al from Chicago, IL

Uniform to use my 28 years of experience as a waiter to get a job

I have been looking for work and have been in touch with a staffing place that does banquets. I can be employed there but I would need my own uniform.


Update from Al: Jul 12, 2012

I cant believe that with the help of benevolent and inspiration that I was able to turn my life completely around. I have a great job and a place to live where I pay my own rent what a feeling. Its nice to see that there are still people and programs out there that still care and dont think that homeless people arent worth helping. For those people who donated thank you so much. For those who are still out on the street dont give up dont ever give up.

Update from Eva on Al's Employment: Jul 10, 2012

We are so thrilled that Al has had his food-service clothing funded! Since receiving this grant, Al has started working as a waiter at Terra American Bistro in Evanston, where he has received exceptional reviews from the managing team, the owners, and the customers. We are so thankful to all who helped make this possible by funding his work attire.

Al's update on his uniform: Apr 26, 2012

On Tues I went with the resouce manager Eva to the Casual Male clothing store and ordered all the uniforms that I needed for my new job. They will email me in 3 to 5 working days to come pick them up.  I can't tell you how much this means to me. I am on my way to getting my life back and all because of the chance Benevolent gave me, I promise I will be the best waiter this city has ever seen. I will never forget what you have done for me and the rest of the people. Once again thank you so much.

Update from Al Apr 16, 2012


Al's statement on hearing his need has been funded: Jan 30, 2012

To all that have funded all the people in this great program as well as myself. My name is AL. I was just fully funded as of Jan 26th for my tux to get work in a staffing agency as a waiter. I can't tell you how grateful and humble I am to all the people who gave others as well as myself this opportunity to turn our lives around. To all at Benevolent much thanks.

Sincerely, AL


At the shelter where I was living, there was a listing of all the employment-training programs in walking distance.  Each one had a different area of expertise.  Inspiration was a culinary and job training program and that’s what I do.  They give you breakfast and give you bus passes to find employment; they help with housing once you get a job.  They taught me computer skills and gave me a voicemail and an email address.  They have the most dedicated staff that help people who have nothing and they make us employable and work with us.  I have a great deal of gratitude to the Inspiration Corporation.

Once I get employment I can get permanent housing.  I am eligible for housing from a lot of places or I could pay for rent at the Y.

I need to get a tuxedo in my size and I’m not a small guy. I need Big and Tall sizes. The banquet company I’ve been in touch with hires regularly and, with my experience (I have worked at the Palmer House, Marriott, etc. in two different countries), I would have an excellent chance to get hired.  They are hiring now but I would need to have my own tuxedo shirt, bow tie, vest, and comfortable shoes.  All I need is a pair of decent black, almost gym shoe-like shoes with no designs.  They need to be comfortable.  Sometimes you don’t need the full pants and jacket. But I actually need that too.

The position I’m in now--I put myself there, and it’s up to me to get myself out of it.  I had chances I blew on my own. My mother is 86 and is now in a nursing home.  The house that she owned got foreclosed on.  I was taking care of her and when she lost the house, I had nowhere to go.  The next thing I know I’m homeless with 60 bucks to my name and no clothes and no ID.  I humbled myself and went into the shelter and did what the people told me to do.  Soon they saw me being worthy of their help.  I did exactly what they told me to do.  I entered the shelter on July 18, 2011.  On Oct. 24, I entered the Independent Living Program.  I earned it.  I worked my way up from nothing.  I gotta keep going.  I understand how the economy is.  If taxpayers are going to be helping me and people like me in this situation, we need to show them that we are worthy of their help. We’re not frivolous or on dope. I have been clean since 2000.

I started in 1978 as a waiter, and was an in-store trainer, training in-coming staff. Corporate restaurants are a great way to get experience.  In the 1980s, I worked at free-standing restaurants and decided to make it a career.  I lost my wife in 1994.  I was with the same woman from the time I was 14 until I was 34.  She died of cancer.  I adapted to that.  From 1994-1997, I was a functional addict.  I went to work every day but was addicted so I sought help.  I looked at my life and woke up one day and looked in the mirror and the mirror looked back at me and said “get up, get up off the ground.”  
I’m 51 years old and I entered the shelter across the street on July 18th of this year.  At that time, I had nothing—no ID, no birth certificate, nothing. I went into that shelter with one pair of shoes, 2 shirts, and one pair of pants.  Living in a shelter is a 24-hour a day stressful environment.  I didn’t let that bother me. I used that opportunity as a chance to turn my life around.  I passed out flyers to earn money so I could go to the thrift store and buy a new wardrobe.

I went through the Inspiration Corporation’s Employment Program. I was never late for any session; I had perfect attendance.  I was still living in the shelter and was volunteering where single men sleep–at the gym in the church. I got promoted to the 4th floor at the building for single men over 50. You can’t stay there unless you earn it. When the Independent Living Program grant was given to them from the Chicago Dept. of Health and Social Services, they chose 50 people who they thought would make it and get a job. Out of 50 who were selected to apply, I was one of the 3 who made it. So, I am currently residing at the YMCA in Lakeview. I must check in once a month personally, and once a week by phone but I went in once a week.  They pay my rent for 4 mos. so I have to get a job by February 24th.

I waited tables for over 20 years. I’m fluent in Vietnamese and a number of other languages. I have been trying to get a job.  I must be employed by February 24th since that’s when my housing allowance runs out.  I’ve been looking since September.  I would like to work in the food services industry if possible, but am willing to do anything if necessary.

I’m a different person than I was in the ‘80s and the ‘90s.  I was young, stupid and an addict.  I’m not the same person that I was.  Sometimes you need a second chance and I’m ready to grab it now.

Need funded!

Thank you for helping Al fund this need.

$460of $460

Need funded!

14 supporters


This need has been validated by Eva from Inspiration Corporation

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Validated by Eva from Inspiration Corporation (What does this mean?)

I have known Al through the employment project here at Inspiration; it’s a 4-week job readiness workshop, with folks from all walks of life, all types of people-some who have MBAs who are unemployed and others who have been homeless and never worked.  It’s about looking at yourself, your strengths and weakness, reframing the way you view the world and the way you present yourself to get the job you really want.  In the program, you are assigned a career specialist who works with you to get you ready, anything you need that is employment or work-related.  I work with anyone who needs it since I don’t have my own caseload.  I work with everyone on their supportive goals related to employment--finding resources, service gaps, whatever they need to get to their goals.

There are organizations available to help women get their professional clothing needs met, but not necessarily for men.  Dental work, bikes, things like this, no one can really meet.  My responsibility is to provide the resources needed.  I worked with Al on his housing goals, helped him get glasses, and now I want to help him get the uniform he needs.  Al has always been so honest and clear about what he’s looking for.  He has years and years of food service experience but with the economy, he couldn’t find another job.  He has temporary stable housing, but what he needs is to get his job back.  He is so close to getting this position with this banquet company and all he needs is this tuxedo.  He doesn’t want to take charity, he wants to work and all that’s standing in the way of his getting there is for him to have an outfit.

About Eva

I am the Resource Specialist for the Employment Project here at Inspiration Corporation. I have been in this position for 8 months and I joined Inspiration Corporation because I was originally a corps member with Avodah. My roommate and close friend was placed here and I came to visit her and… Read more