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!

48 Employed!

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48 Employed!

Improving Through Employment

“Never ever give up. No matter how bad things are. I came to Chicago and I didn’t know anybody. I found shelter at Cornerstone and never gave up. If you’re homeless right now, don’t give up!”
– Katie, obtained employment and housing while sheltered at CCO

In 2016, 48 CCO shelter guests found employment! The effort and determination needed to secure a job while homeless cannot be overstated. We are proud of each and every person who obtained employment. CCO was privileged to help with training, transportation, and uniform costs for many who were in the process of job training or who found work.

Some outstanding shelter guests were given employment at CCO. Of CCO’s 50 employees, 30 have experienced homelessness and have moved from homelessness to housing through one of CCO’s shelter programs. We are proud to say 60% of CCO’s employees have ‘lived experience’ and can bring these insights, compassion, and understanding to their work. They fill critical roles such as case managers, security guards, maintenance staff, chefs, janitorial workers, programs assistants, and evening staff.


We celebrate each of our shelter guests who obtained employment in 2016. Thank you for joining us in celebration. 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.

269 Homeless to Housed!

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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!

 

Celebrate with Us : 2016 Annual Report

Take a moment to celebrate the successes of 2016 with us! We were overjoyed to see 269 shelter residents move from homelessness to housing, 48 people became employed while living at CCO, and over 200,000 plates of nutritious food were served to families and single adults experiencing homelessness. Over 300 people were helped with accessing birth certificates and essential identification, the CCO Free Store saw 2,920 visits for necessary clothing and household items, and over 22,500 bags of groceries went home with our food pantry patrons.


Thank you for joining us in celebrating a few of CCO’s wonderful successes from 2016. In 2017, we hope you continue to be a part of the fabulous things happening at in the lives of those experiencing homelessness. Please consider making a generous donation today!
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Happy Veteran’s Day!

CJ Veteran's Day

Happy Veteran’s Day! CJ is a former CCO resident and U.S. Military Veteran. She moved from homelessness to housing two years ago. We rejoice with her that this year she can observe Veteran’s Day from her own home. Great job, CJ!

In recent years, U.S. Veteran homelessness has declined but their is still a lot of work to be done. At CCO, we believe that safe housing is a human right. Are you a veteran experiencing homelessness? If so, a federal housing program called HUD-VASH may help you. Click here to go to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs HUD-VASH website.

Homeless to Housed : Elizabeth’s Story

 

I found a sweatshirt that says, “Cornerstone University.”  I said, “I’m going to graduate from this school with honors!”

I found a sweatshirt that says, “Cornerstone University.” I said, “I’m going to graduate from this school with honors!”

Homelessness does not discriminate between genders, ages, ethnicities, levels of education, or other demographics. At CCO, it has been our privilege to shelter newborns with their families, elderly persons, people with developmental disabilities, those with master’s degrees, adults who have worked full-time their entire lives and some with no work history at all. Anyone can become homeless.
Elizabeth’s story challenges the norms of who we believe can become homeless in America. It breaks down the fences that divide the “haves” and the “have nots”.
“My father was a very hardworking man. He owned a construction company and he instilled a strong work ethic in me. Growing up I can’t remember a time when we didn’t have what we needed.
After getting my master’s degree in finance, I worked full-time as a financial advisor in the Loop. My husband, Doug, was a stock analyst who worked at the Chicago Board of Trade. I have memories of being downtown at work and homeless people would ask me for change. I wasn’t thinking about the person in front of me. I was thinking about what I was going to have for lunch, who was going to pick-up the dry cleaning, and when I had to be at my next meeting.
I had always lived in the Chicago suburbs. My husband and I had a beautiful home with our sweet daughter. We often had barbeques with neighbors. That’s the sort of life we lived.
After 15 years of building our lives together and of living the American Dream, my husband Doug suddenly and tragically lost his life. We had had a good marriage. We had higher education and great jobs. I couldn’t have stopped what happened to Doug, but for some reason I blamed myself. The loss was unbelievable and shocking. I felt a part of me died with him.
At the funeral someone gave me a drink and I remember feeling numb. That’s what I wanted to feel. Heavy with grief, I just wanted to feel nothing at all.
I quickly became a functioning alcoholic. These were very dark times. I remember going to an AA meeting. A woman was talking about her husband. She said that he was dying and she was so depressed she couldn’t stop drinking. Her story spoke to me and that’s when I realized I needed help. She’s my sponsor to this day and we are very close. I also got intensive residential treatment. It was unbelievably hard physically and emotionally, but I stuck with it. The 12 steps are an important part of my life. People say it’s about making amends and forgiving others, but I think it’s mostly about forgiving yourself.
In 2008, the recession hit and my company lost 30% of our clients. In 2009, the company closed. I was unemployed and the money was running out. I sold my house and moved to Chicago. I wanted to make sure that my daughter had money for her education. That was very important to me. My unemployment eventually ran out and I began to sell everything I had in storage: furniture, household items, everything.
I was frantically looking for work all over the city. Employers kept saying, “You’re overqualified. We can’t pay you what you’re worth.” I just wanted to work. I believe part of the problem was my age. I just kept being rejected and turned away. And I didn’t have anything left to sell and I became homeless.
I found shelter at CCO’s Naomi House program for single women. The staff made me feel welcome and showed me around, but those first few days and nights were tough. I couldn’t believe I was in a shelter. I felt like the biggest failure. I had gone from full-time employment with a home in the suburbs to homelessness. I had never been homeless before. I was scared and I just wanted to hide but I couldn’t. I started to send out 50 resumes a day. I used every computer I could get my hands on.
I was working hard to keep my hopes up and attending AA meetings. CCO has a Free Store where residents and neighbors can “shop” for necessary clothes and household items. One day I was searching the Free Store for cold weather clothes and I found a sweatshirt that says, “Cornerstone University.” I ran downstairs to the Naomi House office and showed it to staff and said, “I’m going to graduate from this school with honors!” Everyone believed me and we had a good laugh!
Soon after that, Sandy Ramsey, CCO’s Executive Director, called me into her office. I couldn’t figure out what I was getting in trouble for. Instead of getting in trouble she offered me an employment position at CCO. I was so surprised!
Now, I am working in the Naomi House program that I had lived in myself. I work as an evening and night staff person. Women living in Naomi House have a lot of needs. When I’m at work, I feel like I’m a psychiatrist, a lawyer, a referee, an officer, a financial advisor, you name it!
I really feel like CCO saved my life. Not just because I got shelter when I was homeless, but because I was given hope, purpose, and employment, too.”
-Elizabeth Hartline, as told to Beth Nicholls

Veteran Success After 30 Years Homeless

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In early 2013, Tommy, a senior citizen and Vietnam Veteran, wandered into our place. He’d been homeless for 30 years! Yes, that’s not a misprint; Tommy had been homeless in Chicago for 30 long years. For 30 long years, he’d been rotating in and out shelters and uninhabitable places! He lives in this massive city, without income and without health insurance! For 30 years, Tommy had been an invisible man in the hustle and bustle of never-ending crowds!

Tommy is an extremely unassuming and polite man! He is drug-free, alcohol-free and felony-free. He doesn’t want to bother anyone. He’s happy to quietly sit and I’ve never heard him complain! (I’m complaining for him) He just lives “day-by-day”, accepting his “homeless fate”. When he wandered into Cornerstone, he didn’t come yelling or demanding answers, he was just expecting CCO to be part of his journey, he was expecting CCO to be just another place to lay his weary bones! But, we had other plans, so we drew this information out of him…..

And upon hearing this American tragedy, we knew we had to be the answer. We also knew it rested upon our shoulders to help turn his tale of despair into a story of hope!

This is a little shout-out to a couple of my fellow case-managers (Andre and Franck); through some amazing displays of dedication and love, Tommy’s story has changed! Tommy trusts us! Tommy knows we care! Tommy needed direction in trying to navigate through a complicated system that is wrapped in a lot of “red tape”. Tommy needed people to advocate for him. He needed people willing to do a lot of leg work for him. Results started happening when we personally took him to the Veterans Administration, Social Security and other places. Results started happening when we became his voice and made a bunch of phone calls on his behalf! Tommy is now getting helped medically by the VA and he’s on the tedious path toward finally getting the financial assistance he deserves.

We didn’t just say, “Hey Tommy: Do this; GO”. We went with him! We spoke for him! We made sure he was seen! We made sure Tommy was “invisible-no-more”! Through these efforts, Tommy got his HUD VASH (Veterans Administration Supportive Housing) voucher.

Tommy’s tragic tale has resurrected into a source of hope!
After his long and tedious journey, Tommy successfully moved into his own apartment in early 2014! He is now getting the support, medical care and financial assistance he earned and deserves.

-Jeremy Nicholls, CCO Men’s Program Supervisor

Veterans Day last year was just another night in a shelter for Tommy. Through compassionate support and intensive case management, Tommy has now been housed in his own apartment for nearly two year!

Five Families Housed!

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Recently, five families sheltered at CCO moved into permanent housing! We are proud to see the determination of our shelter guests and the assistance and support of our case management team in reaching this excellent goal!

CCO provides shelter for families of all descriptions. Unusual family arrangements often have difficulty finding shelter space. Fathers with children struggle to find shelter placement. CCO welcome dads with kids and has been a part of their amazing success stories. To read Lydell’s success story click here.

Safe shelter, nutritious meals and intensive case management services matter in the lives of homeless men, women and children. Help us continue to serve Chicago’s most vulnerable population. Consider donating today!

Thank you!

2013 Annual Report Is Here!

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To see the 2013 Annual Report click here.

The 2013 CCO Annual Report is here! Inside the Annual Report you will find a letter from our Executive Director, program and service information, encouraging stories from successful CCO alumni, 2013 awards, volunteer, donor and financial information.

On behalf of the staff and shelter guests of CCO, we would like to thank everyone who give time and funds in a variety of ways in 2013. Thank you!

Homeless to Housed!

Robert Success

Great job, Robert! It’s good to see you with your new apartment keys. Congratulations!

CCO’s Shelter for Men provides bed space for 65 men each night. During the day men in the shelter program are offered intensive case management services, meals, on-site medical and mental health services, and a variety of services that meet the complex needs of each individual. Our goal is always stable, permanent housing.  And it is our privilege to see our shelter guests move from homeless to housed! Join us in our efforts to provide safe, beneficial shelter. Donate Today!