Inspirica, formerly St. Luke’s Lifeworks, one of the largest providers of services to the homeless in Connecticut and the largest in lower Fairfield County, has been helping people since 1879. Inspirica’s mission is to break the cycle of homelessness by helping people achieve and maintain permanent housing and stability in their lives. By serving single women and men, families, people with mental illness, and people living with HIV/AIDS, Inspirica works across the spectrum of people who are homeless rather than with just one segment of those in need. Inspirica is one of only a handful of organizations in the nation able to address the physical aspect of homelessness as well as its underlying root causes through providing both housing and support services. Inspirica was incorporated as a non-sectarian 501(c)(3) organization in 1987.
Inspirica operates 11 facilities in lower Fairfield Count including emergency shelters, transitional housing, permanent supportive housing, and deeply affordable housing. Stamford’s newest affordable housing development serves the 55-and-older population and opened in April 2017, marking the first joint venture and co-ownership between Inspirica and Charter Oak.
Inspirica provides an extensive array of support services. These services include vocational training, workforce education, job placement, housing placement, job and housing retention support, early childhood and parenting services, children’s services, counseling, case management, and healthcare.
Because of the high cost of housing in Fairfield County, the number of homeless people continues to rise each year in Greenwich and Stamford. Families are the fastest group falling into homelessness. Inspirica houses approximately 350 people each night, and serves more than 850 people each year, including 250 children.
Inspirica measures success not by how many people it serves, but by how many people achieve and maintain permanent housing and stability in their lives. In the past 6 ½ years, Inspirica has made a remarkable impact through placing 1,157 people in jobs and 1,001 men, women and children into permanent housing, with continuous gains each year.
In the past 12 months alone, Inspirica made 202 job placements and placed 204 men, women, and children into permanent housing. Retention rates have been impressive in both categories with 91% retaining their homes over a twelve month period and 74% retaining their jobs after 6 months, which is higher than the national average. Moreover, 100% of the 241 children in Inspirica’s programs graduated to the next level at school.
Many Christ Church Greenwich volunteers are active in a number of programs and special events. One Monday evening a month, volunteers from Christ Church participate in Women of Vision’s Reading and Art Night programs for the elementary and middle school children living at Inspirica. On the first Wednesday of the month, volunteers from Christ Church prepare and serve a meal at Inspirica. Christ Church also sponsors two annual fun-filled events: a picnic at Greenwich Point in June and a Gingerbread House Making Party in December where volunteers can help by shopping, cooking or chaperoning. Adult volunteers are needed to help with all of these programs as well as assisting the children with homework at Inspirica’s after-school Youth Center. Inspirica welcomes Christ Church parishioners to apply for a Board position.
Christ Church provides grants to Inspirica, including $8,500 in 2016, to help address housing where the need is greatest.
Curtis Troeger, Inspirica’s Director of Children’s Services, appreciates all that Women of Vision does for children at the shelter:
“Women of Vision take the time to craft fantastic reading and art activities, which make children in traumatic circumstances feel closer to ‘normal.’ The benefits are incalculable.”
Jason Shaplen, CEO Inspirica, is deeply grateful for all Christ Church does to support Inspirica:
“Our missions are aligned, which is what makes our partnership so strong. We both believe it is a basic tenet of humanity that great nations are defined not by how far the top of society has reach, but how far the bottom has. We can never live up to potential as a nation, as citizens, and as individuals until we end homelessness.”
There are a number of ways you can join Christ Church parishioners in getting involved at Inspirica:
- Youth Art & Reading Night Program: Monthly on Monday evenings (1 hr) September – May. Contact Kathy Rider, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Dinners at Inspirica: First Wednesday of each month. Contact Lucy Rinaldi, email@example.com.
- Picnic at the Beach (June). Contact Randy Wolf, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Gingerbread House Making Party (December). Contact Phoebe Lindsay, email@example.com.
To learn about other volunteer opportunities available at Inspirica, contact Jason Shaplen, CEO, firstname.lastname@example.org or Curtis Troeger, Program Manager, Children’s Services, email@example.com.