Surgery, Recovery, and the Long Road Home

Surgery, Recovery, and the Long Road Home

“When I arrived at Cornerstone Community Outreach (CCO) I was recovering from hip replacement surgery on both hips and I was legally blind in my left eye due to a cataract. Health problems, extensive surgeries, and long recovery times caused me to lose my job and become homeless.

I had my left cataract removed while I was at CCO and I recovered there, too. The doctor told me that if I had waited any longer I may not have gotten my vision back. My vision was so good after the surgery I felt like I could see through walls! I was finally on the road to health and healing.

My CCO case managers, Andre and Jeremy, were there every time I needed their help with important appointments, transportation, laundry cards, medical referrals, and housing lists. I put my name on every piece of paper and data-base I could get ahold of. I knew finding housing was going to be a long road, and it was, but God really saw me through. I believe He never leaves us or forsakes us.

That long road of homelessness ended the day I moved into Friendly Towers, an independent affordable living program for senior citizens. It is a safe, quiet building near Lake Michigan. It’s my home, I couldn’t think of a better place to live.

After being in my apartment for two years, I was asked to be a member of the Cornerstone Community Outreach Board of Directors. I felt truly honored. I appreciate the opportunity to give back to CCO through serving as a board member. I believe my homeless experience gives me a deeper understanding of what CCO residents are going through.

People call me a success story but I’m a work in progress. Even in the times I didn’t ask for help, God was there helping me through.”

Dawson Key, as told to Beth Nicholls

End-of-Year Giving

Lydell

As 2015 draws to a close and 2016 emerges on the horizon, let’s carry the spirit of giving into everyday of our lives. Consider making an end-of-year donation that would allow CCO to continue welcoming and sheltering over 350 individuals in our family and single programs. It’s our privilege to take in homeless fathers with children, three-generational families, single senior citizens, pregnant moms, families with teens, and other families and singles who often find it difficult to get into shelters. We believe everyone has a right to safe shelter.
Click here to donate today. Your gift is 100% tax-deductible. Thank you!
Read Lydell’s story (pictured above) and learn how one outstanding father who went from homelessness to housing at CCO!

Veteran Success After 30 Years Homeless

Success
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!

Rest In Peace

Humberto

Rest in peace, Humberto. You are loved and missed. CCO staff, volunteers and shelter guests have been blessed to know you.

“The grace and humility of Humberto affected all of us. As we’d play dominoes together, I see how his quiet gentleness and contagious smile would bless all those surrounded him. People wanted to assist him, by doing things for him, like getting him meals. Even though he was unable to communicate with most of us through words, his generous actions and gentle demeanor ensured he found plenty of family and friendship within our walls.”

– Jeremy Nicholls, CCO staff member

Over 40 Eye Exams…

Eye Exams

In the month of October, over 40 single men and women in our shelter programs got referrals from CCO case managers to eye appointments at the Illinois Eye Institute. This is great news since many of our single shelter guests are senior citizens or have not had an eye exam in years. Thank you, Illinois Eye Institute!

“I’m in heaven!”

Jeremy & Solomon

Solomon with Jeremy Nicholls, CCO staff member.

Some of you may remember Solomon, who successfully moved from CCO into his own place in June. This is what he had to say about his apartment at Friendly Towers. “I’m in heaven! I paid my rent on the first of the month. It is such a nice place. I love it!” Solomon expressed how grateful he is to the CCO staff that worked with him while he was homeless and the staff of Friendly Towers. His energy, gratitude and relentless smile is a great encouragement to us all!

If the plight of homeless senior citizens is close to your heart consider donating today. CCO offers shelter to senior citizens and collaborates with agencies and affordable housing sites all over Chicago to secure housing for our most vulnerable populations.

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Cornerstone Community Outreach is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and all donations are 100% tax deductible. If you prefer to make a donation by check, it should be made payable to Cornerstone Community Outreach and mailed to the following address:

Cornerstone Community Outreach
Attn: Accounting Office
4615 N. Clifton Ave
Chicago, IL 60640

Plastic-bag Free!

Ruby and her reusable bagWe want to be plastic-free! Do you have reusable shopping bags that are just gathering dust? Drop them off any time at 4628 N. Clifton Avenue in Chicago. They will be used for our food pantry program that provides nutritious food to over 125 households each week. Thank you!

Friendly Towers

Senior_Services

Several elderly or aging CCO shelter guests have recently found housing at the Friendly Towers senior housing program. With supportive services, healthy meals, inter-generational living, an on-site medical clinic and access to a beautiful outdoor garden, we rejoice with them and know that they are in good hands.

Find out more about CCO’s partnership with Friendly Towers.  We are privileged to work with such a reputable housing program and admire the value of their work.

Fresh From CCO!!!

 

Fresh from CCO!!!

Today, over 150 neighborhood households came to CCO to “shop” through fresh fruits and vegetables, canned goods and boxed food items. Without the CCO Foodbag Program many people would struggle to pay rent and get the food they need each month.

The Greater Chicago Food Depository reports that many food insecure Chicagoans find themselves having to choose between prescription medication and food. Often choices have to be made that weaken the health or well being of persons in need. This is a special concern as we have observed more and more senior citizens in need of food help.

Your on-going support makes this program possible! 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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