Join Team CCO and Run for Shelter!!!

homeandcco20112012 011 from Cornerstone Community Outreach on Vimeo.

Join the team and run for shelter!

Click on the video clip above to find out why Team CCO 2012 runner, Corey Escue, participated in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon for Cornerstone Community Outreach. Corey will be running for Team CCO again this year. Registration opens at noon on Tuesday, February 19th, event slots are expected to fill within a day.

Find our more about this years exciting event and how you can get involved by clicking on the Team CCO tab above. By joining Team CCO you will be raising funds and awareness for homeless Chicagoans!

Thank you!

Recipe for Survival on the Winter Streets…

 Sheina, in from the cold

“First, you have to find a lot of blankets; at least 5 or 6 but, 10 or 12 would be better. Try to keep them dry. Put on all your clothes, one layer on top of another. Find a place were the wind isn’t blowing too much, like a spot against a wall. Look for a hospital with warm air vents. And if it’s raining or snowing put some cardboard under you and get some shelter over you, like an awning or overhanging. Find some more people trying to survive because you’ll stay warmer together. Take off your wet socks and anything else that’s wet or else you’ll freeze or get frost bite. Wrap up in all your blankets and put some over your head. You don’t worry about breathing because you’re so cold. The trick is to keep the air out.

If you can get a bus pass, your best bet is to ride the train. Try to find someone else to ride with you so one of you can sleep and one of you can watch your stuff. Keep your stuff on the inside seat and sit next to it. Get off the train before the end of the line so they don’t know you’re homeless or they’ll kick you off the next time you get on. Try to go unnoticed and switch trains so you can ride all night. It sounds crazy, I know, but you can do it. Even when it’s below zero outside. You can make it.”

These are the words of our good friend, Archie. He spoke candidly with us about how to survive on the streets in the winter. I’m happy to report that Archie is permanently housed. Also, the CCO dining room is an emergency location for people on the streets in cold weather. Help us continue to bring Chicago’s most vulnerable citizens in from outside. We can’t do it without you. Thanks!


New Life for Old Bags!!!

New Life for Old Bags Plastic Mats

In the last 3 years, 500,000 plastic grocery bags have been crocheted into mats for homeless people. These bags would have ended up in Chicago’s landfills and waterways. Instead, they are used to make a light-weight, quick-drying bed roll for our friend in need.

Each mat requires about 80 hours of crocheting time and most mats are made by senior citizen volunteers. Over 700 mats have been given to CCO for distribution and we are grateful for all the time and hard word volunteers have put in to make such a special item.

We are grateful to New Life for Old Bags for all their work on behalf of Chicago’s homeless! You make a difference! Click below to view their latest video clip…

New Life for Old Bags Video Clip

Two Weeks to Registration…


Bank of America Chicago Marathon 2012

Run for the homeless by joining Team CCO! In just two weeks from today registration for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon will open. Event planners estimate that registration will be filled within a day or two, so don’t delay!

Find out more information about Team CCO by clicking on the Team CCO tab above. You won’t regret it!

Nutritious Meals…


In 2012, CCO shelter residents were served over 80,456 meals. Also, over 19,500 bags of food left CCO to help feed our neighbors in need. Through our Dinner Guest Program 5,200 meals were served to food-insecure Chicagoans in the CCO dining room.

The following is an article about our Food Bag Program-

The early-morning line for food stretches down the sidewalk. Person after person after person is holding a bag or leaning on a small food cart. The food program is about to begin and standing in the winter breeze is not an option. Chris Ramsey and his clutch of faithful volunteers usher everyone in early to have a seat in the heated dining room. Grandmothers, military veterans, unemployed adults, a rainbow of ethnicities wait patiently to shop through the options at the front of the line.

The volunteers have been busy for hours inside the building, unloading a small mountain of boxes containing canned goods, boxed foods, breads, frozen meats, cereal, fruits and vegetables. Some are part of a visiting group and many are folks who have been helped by the food pantry in the past. This is their way of giving back.

Chris Ramsey, who manages the food program, is hauling boxes of frozen meat out of the kitchen and arranging them at the end of the long table of food choices. Chris has been doing this for years. He checks with his volunteers, kindly tapping a few of them on the shoulder, and tosses a quick hello and wave to familiar pantry attendants. Long tables have been arranged in an L shape for the food line. A variety of foods are dropped into bags as the people make their way down the line. Everything is ready and now the shopping has begun.

At the CCO food bag program each person is able to select what they need from the options before them, and every week different foods are available. It is nice to give people a choice to accept or decline certain foods. What one person may not like, another might be anxious to take home. It’s a system that works at CCO and people seem to be happy with it.

Chris Ramsey estimates that nearly 150 households are able to take multiple bags of food home from Cornerstone each week. It’s clear that Chris is glad to know people are being fed and, hopefully, not having to choose between medication and dinner or rent and groceries.

The food bag program started over 20 years ago, giving out powered milk, margarine and potatoes. It’s amazing to see how it’s grown into a program that provides for hundreds of our neighbors. It’s also encouraging to see the heart and soul that goes into this major event each week.



Essential Identification…


Last year, over 274 people obtained their birth certificates and 100 people got their Illinois State I.D.’s though Cornerstone Community Outreach. New residents often come to CCO without identification due to frequent moves, theft or other issues. It is critical to begin the process early because basic identification is a vital tool in breaking the cycle of homelessness without it many are unable to obtain subsidized housing, employment training, needed benefits, and other essentials.

We are grateful to you, our donors, for providing the funds to pay for so many birth certificates and Illinois State I.D.’s in 2012. This simple step puts our residents on the path to permanent housing and self-sufficiency. Thank you!