A Letter From The Director

CCO logo Dear Friend,

This past year, 2013, has been filled with many adventures. Cornerstone Community Outreach (CCO) has been privileged to walk with many families and individuals as they pass through a very difficult time in their life. By the time they reach our doorstep, the majority of our shelter guests have lost everything. Unfortunately, some have suffered more loss than you and I can imagine and homelessness is just one more thing on their plate.

We are committed to partnering with our shelter guests through this time by assisting them in stabilizing their finances, housing, and ultimately their lives. It has been an honor to help those who come through our doors. It is an experience that we would not trade and we look forward to another year of serving those who are less fortunate.

Our mission at CCO is to help people recover from the hardships of homelessness with dignity while helping them restore their God-given worth and self-esteem.

In 2013, over 170 people moved into permanent housing from one of CCO’s shelter programs or through street outreach. It is always a joy to see former residents proudly showing off their new apartment keys!

Every donation helps bring our homeless families and individuals one step closer to stability and permanent housing. Will you consider donating today?

– Sandra Ramsey

Executive Director, Cornerstone Community Outreach

“Addressing Homelessness, Providing Shelter, Accepting People,



Holiday Giving


CCO staff, donors and volunteers work long and hard to make the holidays special for our shelter guests. That includes families with children and single men and women. Help us make the holidays bright! Monetary donations go a long way in filling the gaps in gift and goods donated to CCO.

Please consider making a donation today. Thank you!

CCO Executive Director thanks Team CCO

CCO Director Sandy Ramsey Thanks Team CCO from Cornerstone Community Outreach on Vimeo.

Cornerstone Community Outreach Executive Director, Sandy Ramsey, has a special thank you message for Team CCO! Click on the video to hear Sandy thank all the men and women who committed so much time and effort toward this years Bank of America Chicago Marathon! We are so proud of our team!

Fund Manager of the Year!

jeremy emergency fund award - Copy

CCO would like to say a special thank you to the Emergency Fund, who hosted the 2013 Breakfast with the Mayor. At this years event, Jeremy Nicholls, was awarded Fund Manager of the Year! We are proud of Jeremy and grateful to the Emergency Fund for this exciting recognition. Thank you!

The mission of the Emergency Fund is to provide assistance to low income Chicago area individuals through a crisis or transition. Volunteer Fund Managers are located throughout the city and do work on the “front lines” with families and individuals who are in crisis.

Cornerstone Helped Me

Ildevert, pictured here with Francke Moukiama, CCO staff member.

Ildevert, pictured here with Francke Moukiama, CCO staff member.

“To live under a dictator is like slavery. There is no justice. There is no peace. It is not a free country.” Over fifty years of living under a Congolese dictatorship was long enough for Ildevert Mboungou. In the Congo, Ildevert worked as a chef for the employees of a major oil company. When it was found out that he was a supporter of the Democratic party the dictatorship that ruled and mistreated the Congolese people for decades began to severely abuse him. Ildevert was forced to leave his employment, his home, and all he knew. He had to escape his homeland and flee to America.

“I flew directly to Chicago. I did not know anyone. I was alone and deeply sad. I was living in the el train station and a man approached me and spoke my language. He told me that he knew where I could get help and he brought me to CCO (Cornerstone Community Outreach). I don’t know who he was.” Homeless shelters do not exist in the Congo and Ildevert was not aware that help was available or how to find it. This kind stranger took him from being isolated and living outside, to CCO where he could find a sense of community, support, and help for the future.

“I came to CCO with only a plastic bag that held my Bible, documents, passport and coat. That is all I had but I was happy to find shelter. I met Franke, Andre and Jeremy and they made me feel welcome. I was able to have meals, clothes, showers, and a bed. I am no longer alone and outside. Coming to the shelter was extraordinary!”

Almost immediately, Ildevert told staff that he would like to volunteer in the kitchen. “Cornerstone helped me, I want to help Cornerstone.” His culinary skills have been put to good use and he does a magnificent job and among CCO’s shelter guests Ildevert has found friends. One friend helps him practice the english language and is a great source of encouragement.

Today, Ildevert’s time is filled and he does more than volunteer for CCO. He is taking a course at Truman College for English as a second-language. He has begun training to get a certificate in Food Service at Inspiration Corporation. He is an active volunteer at the Kolver Center for survivors of politically-sanctioned torture. We rejoiced with Ildevert when he received his political asylum certificate from the United States government. And we look forward to seeing great things from this humble, grateful and generous man. “I prayed and God remembered me and brought me up from my low place.”

Nearly 3 1/2 years has passed since Ildevert’s story was first posted. Ildevert’s entire family has joined him in Chicago. His children are enjoying a good education, Ildevert is employed and they have an apartment to call home. CCO is privileged to be part of Ildevert’s story and grateful experience his kindness and generosity of spirit. Refugees truly enrich our lives. 

– Ildevert Mboungou, as told to Beth Nicholls and translated by Francke Moukiama



Reporting Recognition!

Gold Star with text

This summer Cornerstone Community Outreach (CCO) was awarded a gold star from the Chicago Alliance to End Homelessness. Nine Chicago agencies were told a very big “job well done” and CCO was proud to be among them.

The gold star is given to agencies who submitted all their data reports on time and with at least 95% accuracy. CCO case managers and technical staff have worked tirelessly to insure that important information is entered and submitted quickly.

CCO’s Executive Director and Administrators want to say a huge thank you to the wonderful men and women on our case management team and to Rachel Shaw, our Agency Technical Administrator. They deserve all the recognition for this achievement!

Thank you!

Happy Mother’s Day!

“Smile!” Mothers who live at CCO, like mom’s everywhere, cherish pictures of their children. It’s a beautiful reminder that families stick together even in the toughest of circumstances and it’s always a joy to look at those smiling faces. Today we want to applaud the mothers of CCO for their determination while being homeless. It brings a smile to our faces to see their compassion and hard work within their families.

At this time, over 40 moms along with their children are being sheltered in one of Cornerstone Community Outreach’s three family programs. While we are encouraged by the diligence mom’s display during stressful times we are also anxious to see them in permanent, stable housing.

Help us to continue to support the moms and children being sheltered at CCO. Donate today! Your contribution really makes a difference in the lives of our families. Thank you!