Christmas for CCO Single Shelter Guests

Mens Christmas Featured Over 350 consider CCO home while they are working to establish permanent housing. It’s important that Christmas is a joy for every family and single person sheltered with us. The giving doesn’t stop with the parents and children. The residents of our single women and single men’s shelter are no less important. Each program celebrates with a festive party that includes decorations, a delicious holiday meal, and gifts. Everyone is valued and no one is left out.
As you celebrate the holidays this year remember CCO and consider making a holiday or year-end donation. Your gift is 100% tax deductible and you will have the knowledge that you are a part of making the holidays and every day brighter for our shelter guests. If you would like to donate new items for our Holiday party for single shelter guests please contact Eve at eve@ccolife.org. Or consider making a financial donation that will be spent to fill the greatest need. Thank you!

Naomi House Renovation!

Thank you Tourism Toronto for beautifully renovating the bathroom for the single women sheltered at CCO’s Naomi House program! You’re work is an improvement and encouragement. What a transformation! Thank you!

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

Great News!

Successfully Housed

It’s great to see Arturo in his brand new apartment! Congratulations!

It’s been an exciting week at CCO. Several of our single shelter guests have moved into permanent, stable housing. Five people found employment and two families moved into apartments this week from our family programs. We are grateful for all the success!

Your donations make these successful moves possible. Please donate today!

Thank you!

Our Mission

 

Housing Success

Our Mission:

Addressing homelessness, providing shelter, accepting people, finding home.

“Finding home” is the moment when housing happens for a homeless person. We are proud of our shelter guests and case managers that work to find a place for everyone. It is pure joy to see someone with new apartment keys and a big smile.

Join us in our effort to bridge the gap between homelessness and home. Help us “Find Home” for our shelter guests. Donate Today!

Thank you

Blankets for men

Tzu Chi Foundation of Chicago generously donated a large number blankets to the CCO men’s overnight shelter. Each man sheltered in our men’s program got a new blanket with some left over for future use.

During these cold months, warmth is a wonderful gift. Thank you!

To learn more about CCO’s shelters for homeless individuals, click here.

Cornerstone Barber Shop

“I just found a job, so I’m a happy man because I feel more confident going to work!” -Rafael

The Cornerstone Barber Shop is open! Over 40 shelter guests received free, professional hair cuts at CCO this week. Six Chicago barbers donated their time and energy to serve our shelter guests in this very practical way.

CCO staff and residents want to say thank you to Orlando’s Hair Studio, Urbane Blades, and Hyde Park Hair Salon. Thank you to our very own, Charlene, who organized this fun and meaningful event complete with pizza and treats. Thank you!

Congratulations Carla!

Carla, Successfully Housed!

“The night before I came to CCO I slept out on a park bench. I said I would never stay in a shelter. And what did God do? He put me right in a shelter and blessed me there.

 I thought people in a shelter had to sleep on the floor. I was afraid that people would steal my stuff and that it would be dirty. I thought I would have to leave in the early morning and stay out all day. Naomi House has been totally different. I have a case manager, three meals a day, I didn’t have to sleep on the floor or leave during the day. It isn’t dirty. I’ve improved mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally.”

It would be difficult to talk to Carla and miss her determination and gratitude. She recently found out that after months of hard work she has an apartment!

“Recently, I got a housing call and I was told, ‘It’s a go. Start packing!’ I have a place and I’m so excited about my little apartment. It’s perfect for me. And it makes me think about how good God is!”

-Carla

Naomi House and CCO’s other shelter programs rely on your donation dollars to operate. To donate today click on the Donate Now button at the top of the page. Thank you!

A King In His Castle!

Eliud

 

Today we are congratulating Eliud! A former CCO resident, Eliud has been successfully (and happily) housed for over 4 months. He told us he feels like a king in his very own castle! Clearly, he’s overjoyed with his studio apartment and we are happy to have him stop by for a visit.

Your donation makes a world of difference for people who need temporary shelter to get back to on their feet. You can donate by clicking on the Donate Now button below.
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