Hello! The holiday season has come and gone, and it’s hard to believe that we are already in February of a brand new year.
I thought you might be interested in some CCO highlights from the past few months. Life is always exciting at the shelter, and the holidays have been no exception. Your interest and concern on behalf of our shelter residents is such a blessing to all of us. I hope you find this letter informative and helpful. So much of what we do would not be possible without you.
November 2009 included a visit from Moo Moo of the Harlem Globetrotters, who graciously posed for pictures and signed autographs for our residents. A local TV station came looking to interview some of our people on the issue of hunger and how it had affected them before they became homeless. A major ad agency downtown in Chicago shared their Thanksgiving party food with us. On Thanksgiving Day several churches and volunteers made sure that all our residents enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving meal. The holiday season had begun.
In December we helped celebrate the 20th anniversary of Heartland Health Outreach, who have contributed so much toward the health and well-being of our residents. They focus on residents who might be hesitant to seek out medical services for an array of reasons, so Heartland Health Outreach provides healthcare services at Cornerstone each week.
The holiday celebrations continued, with decorated trees arriving for our families from a large corporation. Another group brought Christmas meals and backpacks, and still another brought socks, hats, and gloves. An area church held a Christmas party for the children, with food, arts, and crafts, while another church held a special dinner for the 65 single men. Everyone enjoyed what is turning out to be a yearly holiday concert featuring a wide variety of Christmas music. The kids experienced the arrival of three different Santas. Our single ladies enjoyed a wonderful Christmas party complete with a talent show and prizes, gifts and more good food. Our single men received gifts and Christmas stockings filled with goodies. We handed out gifts to the families, with each child receiving at least six toys, and passed out candy and chocolate to adults who enjoyed feeling like little kids at Christmas.
Throughout the season, we were entertained by Sean’s loud laughter, found out that Walter likes oranges, listened to
Danita’s poetry, and heard from Alan that he found a place to live in the suburbs. At the closing of the year it was great to see good things happening every day.
Our families started 2010 with the traditional New Year’s meal of ham, black-eyed peas (the eyes of God upon you),
and cornbread. Truly, we feel the loving eyes of God upon us all.
January brought harsh weather in which the call was put forth to bring in those who had been sleeping outside on the frozen pavement. The dining room became a temporary warming center and pillows were passed out to grateful recipients. We began talking with our new arrivals to see how we could best help them.
Also in January we celebrated the one-year anniversary of managing our 65-bed men’s shelter program. What a privilege that has been! More volunteers came to work for us on Martin Luther King Day, sorting and hauling clothing in our Free Store. Then we got ready to host another four-week job-preparedness training on-site for so many of our people who are trying to find employment. A late Christmas present to all of us involved Sean getting his own apartment. Watching him go up the walk to his own front door and put the key in the lock has already been a highlight of our year.
Another blessing in our life is past President Emeritus of the Evangelical Covenant Church, Glenn Palmberg, and his friends, who have been working closely with us on major projects such as completing our much-needed elevator. Great excitement there, but more details later.
Finally, this year we ask you to join us as we celebrate 20 years of Cornerstone Community Outreach providing shelter to thousands of homeless people. What an amazing privilege and responsibility it has been for us, with all of you at our side. We could not do this without your support and encouragement. We will keep you posted on our progress as we continue to find jobs and housing for so many people. Please feel free to come and visit us whenever you can.
Sandra J. Ramsey
Cornerstone Community Outreach
check out our website: www.ccolife.org • or facebook: www.facebook.com/cornerstonecommunityoutreach