Happy Birthday to You!

Happy Birthday to you! Did you know that CCO staff and volunteers bake, ice, decorate and deliver a birthday cake to each child who has a birthday while sheltered at CCO? It’s true! And mom and dad are given wrapped gifts for the birthday boy or girl. It’s a truly sweet way to encourage the kids at CCO.

We need your help! We are looking for CCO supporters who would like to purchase new cake mixes, icing, and decorations (candles, sprinkles, etc) to make sure the birthday elves are never short of supplies. If you are interested in giving in this way contact Eve at eve@ccolife.org. Thanks!

Permanently Housed Up 29 % at CCO

Every person who moves from homelessness to housing is a cause for celebration. We rejoice with every one of our residents who are able to turn a key and enter their home, whether it is a mom or dad with children, single senior citizen, couple with children, three-generational family, or young adult. Finding home is the next step in a new phase of life.

While staying at Cornerstone the case-management staff work hard to make sure each person receives the assistance and services available. The work with the residents is tracked closely to be able to monitor what works and what areas can be improved on. One area tracked is how many people who come to Cornerstone homeless, successfully move into permanent housing.

We are glad to announce, that the number of people that have been housed this year so far is up by 29 percent! Already 24 families and their children, and 51 single men and women, all of whom stayed in one of CCO’s shelters moved from homelessness to permanent housing. That’s 9 more families and 16 more men and women than this time last year.

All of this can only be accomplished by your support, the hard work of the people finding home, and Cornerstone’s staff. Please consider donating today to help this wonderful work continue, and more people find home.

A donation of $4 per day can provide these wonderful, successful services for the homeless in Chicago. Donate Today!

269 Homeless to Housed!

2016_Annual_Report_Back_Header

Family_Success

269 Homeless to Housed!

“Finding Home”

“Thank you Cornerstone for all your help! Not only for the help of shelter and housing but for life in general. Thank you and keep up the good work!”
– Lisa, maintained employment and found housing while sheltered at CCO.

Every single person who moves from homelessness to housing is a cause for celebration. We rejoice with every one of our residents who are able to turn a key and enter their home, whether it is a mom or dad with children, single senior citizen, couple with children, three-generational family, or young adult. “Finding home’ is the next step in a new phase of life.

Often the path to housing is full of barriers and delays but we are grateful to our case management team who help everyone sheltered at CCO navigate the complexities of finding a safe place to live.

In 2016, 269 people who stayed in one of CCO’s shelters or was helped through our outreach program moved from homelessness to housing. It was a record-breaking year!


Thank you for joining us in celebrating this exciting success from 2016. In 2017, we hope you continue to be a part of the fabulous things happening in the lives of those experiencing homelessness. Please consider donating today!

 

The Joy of Giving: CCO 2016 Christmas Album

“Never get tired of doing little things for others.
Sometimes, those little things occupy the biggest part of their hearts.”
– Unknown

What a festive Holiday Season! It was a joy to watch the children and parents sheltered at CCO receiving and unwrapping Christmas gifts. CCO wants to say a huge “Thank you” to our generous and thoughtful donors, who made the 2016 Holiday Season extra special. Our shelter guests gushed with gratitude. Parents enjoyed watching their children tear open gifts and felt comforted in the knowledge that they would not have to go ‘without’ this year. Each present showed that this Christmas, they were remembered. They were valued. And they were not alone.
Chicago Bear, Jimmy Staten, volunteered to play Santa this year. Thank you, Jimmy! You made every single family and child feel truly special. You brought an exciting boost to our holiday gift giving. Thank you for your time, patience, and sweet attitude!
And thank you to our very own Santa, Stewart Brown. Check back for a CCO special video featuring Stewart coming soon to CCOlife.
Thank you to all the Christmas elves who worked day and night gathering donated toys, sorting, wrapping, and organizing so that everyone felt special. Thank you to all the staff, volunteers, and CCO Board Members who helped make everything come together for the families and nearly 150 children sheltered at CCO.
Special thanks and photo credit goes to Juan Carlos Garzon. Thank you for the fabulous pictures we can all enjoy, including the families, who received copies as keepsakes of their Christmas at CCO.
Your thoughtfulness and encouragement last long after the wrapping paper is swept up and the toys are well used. It is truly a blessing to give and we are grateful to all who did!

 

Don’t Give Up: Shirley’s Story!

Shirley Graduates!“It was always the same, every day after school. I would make up a story to tell my friends why I was walking the other way. ‘I’ve got to go to my uncle’s house.’ I didn’t want them to know I was homeless. I was terribly ashamed of it. I never shared it with anybody, and they never knew.”

When Shirley’s family came to CCO for shelter she was 12 years old but she wasn’t new to the homeless experience. For years, she and her family had shuffled from one extended family member’s house to another. At each new destination, disputes erupted and she and her family were once again displaced, and forced to move on to the next couch, floor space, or basement. Shirley grew up with a front row seat to the destabilizing effects of homelessness.

”At CCO, I got to know the staff. They were softer, kinder, and gentler, than the adults I had been around. As a child, some of my best memories were of CCO volunteers and staff teaching me how to do crafts. It had a huge influence on me. Staff and volunteers taught me how to tie-dye. I appreciated it. It opened my eyes to art and artistic expression. I’m still a crafter today. It’s a part of who I am. While my family lived at the shelter, we also did a lot of outdoorsy stuff. I remember getting out of the city and camping, experiencing nature. It was one of the best times of my childhood.”

Shirley’s family eventually moved into an apartment and successfully left CCO, but struggles within her family intensified already-damaged relationships. “I ran away because I kept being told, ‘You won’t amount to anything.’ I knew that I had to do something that would get me where I needed to be. All my high school years, I worked up to 45 hours each week. I would get up and go to school, get out of school, and go to work until midnight or 2 am. Then, do it over and over again. I had a consistent work history but my education suffered. I didn’t have much hope. My big dream was to be the manager of a fast-food restaurant. I thought that was the best I could do.”

Desperate to break free, Shirley took a leap into the unknown. “I enlisted in the Air Force. At basic training I was asked, ‘Are you afraid of blood?’ I answered ‘No,’ so I was trained as a surgical technician. I didn’t realize then how that one question would shape my life! I decided I was going to work really hard in the military. The Air Force made me feel like I had a family. It was the first time in my life that I had the structure and support to achieve my goals. I’ll never forget the day one of the drill sergeants walked pasted me at basic training and said, ‘That Shirley Richards, she’s going to be a great airman.’ I felt like I could fly!

I was stationed in Washington D.C. I took pride in my work and in the Air Force. Years went by and my surgical technician experience and knowledge grew but I knew that ultimately I wanted a civilian life.

After leaving the military, I returned to Chicago and I was hired at a prestigious orthopedic hospital. I really wanted to shine. My work as a surgical technician was exciting and exhausting. I assisted with total joint replacements and worked 50 hours a week. I cared about the patients and my co-workers. Through my work I learned more about medical research which led to a yearning to go back to school and get a degree. So I did. I continued to work full-time and I enrolled in on-line courses.

In 2012 I got my degree in Healthcare Administration. I had been told by some of the people closest to me that I would never amount to anything, yet there I stood with my diploma in hand and I couldn’t stop crying. It was a dream come true. I had finally shown the world and myself that I could accomplish something. I never stopped trying. Today, I am a partner in a medical technologies company and I have authored a published medical research paper.

I look back at myself as a little girl trying to survive family conflict and homelessness, as a teen closing McDonald’s late at night, as a new recruit entering basic training, as a young surgical tech stepping into the OR, and as an adult student studying for an exam. I truly don’t believe I would have made it to the place I am at today without hope.

When it comes to being homeless, it’s easy to give up and fall into sorrow. Don’t give up. If you’re homeless right now, find organizations like Cornerstone Community Outreach. They will help with food, clothes, shelter, training, and housing referrals; these steps will get you where you need to go. It is not easy and I’m not trying to minimize the situation, but there is help, there is hope!”

  • Shirley Richards, as told to Beth Nicholls

Happy Thanksgiving!

CCO Thanksgiving graphicHappy Thanksgiving from the staff, volunteers, and shelter guests at CCO! We are thankful for your support, involvement, time, energy, and efforts on behalf of the work we do. CCO families and individuals will be enjoying a turkey dinner with all the trimmings. You’re involvement helps provide safe shelter, nutritious meals, and essential supportive services to those sheltered at CCO. Please consider donating today. Thank you!

Help Make CCO’s Back-to-School Bash Great!

Back To School

Are you interested in donating to really great cause? This Thursday we will be hosting CCO’s Back-to-School Bash! Consider making a donation today that will help cover the cost of backpacks, shoes, party and school supplies.

Over 150 children are sheltered at CCO with their families. Education is a stabilizing force for families experiencing homelessness. At CCO, we work with parents to make the transition to school as smooth as possible.Our yearly back-to-school event gives all our school age kids a chance to choose a backpack and supplies, participate in games, enjoy treats and listen to motivational speakers.

Over 10,000 Pounds of Food!

Thank you to everyone who walked for CCO at this years Greater Chicago Food Depository (GCFD) Hunger Walk. Those who joined us for the Hunger Walk helped to create over 10,000 pounds of food from the GCFD for CCO shelter guests and food pantry patrons.

Each day over 350 men, women, and children are sheltered at CCO. The CCO dining room offers nutritious meals to all our shelter guests. Each week over 150 households visit the CCO Food Pantry to choose from healthy grocery items.

If you weren’t able to join us for the Hunger Walk you can still make a donation that will make a difference for those we shelter. Safe shelter, nutritious meals, and intensive case management services, are a critical part of the services CCO offers to the families and individuals sheltered with us. Consider donating today!

 

Fight Hunger with CCO!

Hunger Walk  2014Join us for the Greater Chicago Food Depository Hunger Walk 5k! Each year walkers at the Hunger Walk provides CCO with a food account with the Food Depository that is used to create nutritious meals for those we shelter and groceries for our food pantry patrons.

This years 5k Hunger Walk will take place on June 25 at Jackson Park in Chicago. Each walker counts! Click here to register and don’t forget to use our agency code A00393 so you’re steps count for CCO and to ensure a free registration.

We hope to see you there!

Congratulations!

Successfully Housed Family!

Congratulations! It is always a joy to see one of the families sheltered at CCO moving from homelessness to housing! Our most recently housed family is pictured here proudly displaying the keys to their new apartment.

In 2015, 42% of CCO’s total shelter population is made up of children age 17 and under. 37% of these are minors age 12 and under. Providing safe shelter and working with the families that come to CCO is a critical part of our mission.

The National Coalition for the Homeless states that the average age of a homeless person in the U.S. is 9 years old. This number challenges a lot of the typical stereotypes that people associate with homelessness in America. Children who are homeless have special needs. Stability through on-going education, proper nutrition, and development through play space, can help lessen the burden of homelessness.

At CCO, we welcome homeless families of all kinds, mothers with children, fathers with children, couples with children, and three-generational families. Case managers compassionately work to assist families with school transfers or transportation, assessments and referrals for children struggling in an emotional or academic area, and assistance with specific challenges that may arise. We are privileged to take part in the successes of our shelter families. Consider making a donation today and be a part of helping to stabilize and strengthen the families sheltered at CCO! Thank you!