331 Birth Certificates & State ID’s

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311 Birth Certificates & State ID’s

Essential Identification

Often something as simple as identification can stand in the way of job training, education, employment, and housing. CCO case managers work hard to get essential identification so that goals can be met. As a result, families and single adults are brought one step closer to stability and “finding home.”

In 2016, 331 Birth Certificates and State ID’s were obtained by those sheltered at CCO. Many people entering CCO have no identification or income. Staff work with shelter guests to secure ID so that they can access housing lists, job training, schooling, medical assistance, and more. Without identification, it is impossible to move forward to secure housing.


Thank you for celebrating this important 2016 success with us. In 2017, we hope you continue to be a part of the fabulous things happening in the lives of those who experience homelessness. Please consider donating today!

 

Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K charity donation

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Register and the Shamrock Shuffle will donate $5 to Cornerstone!

The Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K offers runners a similar race weekend experience to the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. Not only are the start and finish lines in Grant Park on Columbus Drive, but the course loops through the fast and flat streets of downtown Chicago mirroring the beginning of the Marathon route. The Shamrock Shuffle is an ideal event to practice your Marathon race day routine and blow out the cobwebs after a Chicago winter. Beyond its similarities to the Chicago Marathon, the Shamrock Shuffle highlights the local community spirit of Chicago’s runners. From the debut runner to the veteran, the Shuffle is the race for everyone.

The event has extended us a unique Shamrock Shuffle registration opportunity that will help support our charity team. Sign up and $5 of your entry fee will go towards our organization.  Visit shamrockshuffle.com/charityregistration and register today! During the registration process, select your charity team from the list of official charities on the registration form. Complete your registration and our charity will receive a $5 donation from your entry fee!

Don’t miss your chance to celebrate the arrival of spring and support us at the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K! Sign up today and secure your spot at the start line.

200,000+ Plates of Food

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200,000+ Meals Served!

Fighting Hunger Through Nutrition

Each plate of food served in the CCO dining room help to bring nutrition, energy, and well-being to the children, adults, and senior citizens who dine with us. Nutrient-rich, balanced meals are central to CCO’s services.

To many of us, food is such a routine and expected provision that we forget it’s importance. But for those who are hungry, it is no small matter. Consistent, nutritious meals help to stabilize moods and focus attention on important tasks. It can help break people free of a survival mentality.

In 2016, over 200,000 meals are served in the CCO dining room. We are grateful to provide this core service.


Thank you for joining us in celebrating CCO’s fight against hunger. In 2017, we hope you continue to be a part of the fabulous things happening in the lives of those experiencing homelessness. Please consider making a donation 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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The End of the Year is Here!

End-of-Year CalendarAs we say goodbye to 2016, and 2017 emerges on the horizon, let’s carry the spirit of giving into every day 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 adult shelter 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.
Take a moment and read Shirley’s story (pictured below) and learn how one outstanding child who was sheltered at CCO with her family went from homelessness to housing and a stable future!
Please consider making a financial donation today. Your gift is 100% tax-deductible.
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Survival on the Winter Streets

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Providing shelter matters. That is particularly true in the recent frigid weather. CCO staff work even harder during the colder season to make sure more people are safe and indoors. In the evenings and early mornings, helpers are out distributing blankets and mats, encouraging folks to come inside, distributing HotHands to fend off frostbite, and providing other practical help.
Join us in our efforts to see our homeless brother and sisters through this cold season. Volunteer or donate today! Thank you!

Take a moment to read what Archie had to say about trying to survive on the winter streets…

“First, you have to find a lot of blankets; at least 5 or 6, but 10 or 12 would be better. Try to keep them dry. Put on all your clothes, one layer on top of another. Find a place where the wind isn’t blowing too much, like a spot against a wall. Look for a hospital with warm air vents. And if it’s raining or snowing put some cardboard under you and get some shelter over you, like an awning or overhanging. Find some more people trying to survive, because you’ll stay warmer together. Take off your wet socks and anything else that’s wet or else you’ll freeze or get frostbite. Wrap up in all your blankets and put some over your head. You don’t worry about breathing because you’re so cold. The trick is to keep the air out.

If you can get a transit pass, your best bet is to ride the train. Try to find someone else to ride with you so one of you can sleep and one of you can watch your stuff. Keep your stuff on the inside seat and sit next to it. Get off the train before the end of the line so they don’t know you’re homeless or they’ll kick you off the next time you get on. Try to go unnoticed and switch trains so you can ride all night. It sounds crazy, I know, but you can do it, even when it’s below zero outside. You can make it.”

– Archie

Consider making a donation that will provide a safe shelter space, warm meals, clothing essentials, and supportive services, to the men and women brought in from the cold by our Outreach Workers. Thank you! 

 

Don’t Give Up: Shirley’s Story!

Shirley Graduates!“It was always the same, every day after school. I would make up a story to tell my friends why I was walking the other way. ‘I’ve got to go to my uncle’s house.’ I didn’t want them to know I was homeless. I was terribly ashamed of it. I never shared it with anybody, and they never knew.”

When Shirley’s family came to CCO for shelter she was 12 years old but she wasn’t new to the homeless experience. For years, she and her family had shuffled from one extended family member’s house to another. At each new destination, disputes erupted and she and her family were once again displaced, and forced to move on to the next couch, floor space, or basement. Shirley grew up with a front row seat to the destabilizing effects of homelessness.

”At CCO, I got to know the staff. They were softer, kinder, and gentler, than the adults I had been around. As a child, some of my best memories were of CCO volunteers and staff teaching me how to do crafts. It had a huge influence on me. Staff and volunteers taught me how to tie-dye. I appreciated it. It opened my eyes to art and artistic expression. I’m still a crafter today. It’s a part of who I am. While my family lived at the shelter, we also did a lot of outdoorsy stuff. I remember getting out of the city and camping, experiencing nature. It was one of the best times of my childhood.”

Shirley’s family eventually moved into an apartment and successfully left CCO, but struggles within her family intensified already-damaged relationships. “I ran away because I kept being told, ‘You won’t amount to anything.’ I knew that I had to do something that would get me where I needed to be. All my high school years, I worked up to 45 hours each week. I would get up and go to school, get out of school, and go to work until midnight or 2 am. Then, do it over and over again. I had a consistent work history but my education suffered. I didn’t have much hope. My big dream was to be the manager of a fast-food restaurant. I thought that was the best I could do.”

Desperate to break free, Shirley took a leap into the unknown. “I enlisted in the Air Force. At basic training I was asked, ‘Are you afraid of blood?’ I answered ‘No,’ so I was trained as a surgical technician. I didn’t realize then how that one question would shape my life! I decided I was going to work really hard in the military. The Air Force made me feel like I had a family. It was the first time in my life that I had the structure and support to achieve my goals. I’ll never forget the day one of the drill sergeants walked pasted me at basic training and said, ‘That Shirley Richards, she’s going to be a great airman.’ I felt like I could fly!

I was stationed in Washington D.C. I took pride in my work and in the Air Force. Years went by and my surgical technician experience and knowledge grew but I knew that ultimately I wanted a civilian life.

After leaving the military, I returned to Chicago and I was hired at a prestigious orthopedic hospital. I really wanted to shine. My work as a surgical technician was exciting and exhausting. I assisted with total joint replacements and worked 50 hours a week. I cared about the patients and my co-workers. Through my work I learned more about medical research which led to a yearning to go back to school and get a degree. So I did. I continued to work full-time and I enrolled in on-line courses.

In 2012 I got my degree in Healthcare Administration. I had been told by some of the people closest to me that I would never amount to anything, yet there I stood with my diploma in hand and I couldn’t stop crying. It was a dream come true. I had finally shown the world and myself that I could accomplish something. I never stopped trying. Today, I am a partner in a medical technologies company and I have authored a published medical research paper.

I look back at myself as a little girl trying to survive family conflict and homelessness, as a teen closing McDonald’s late at night, as a new recruit entering basic training, as a young surgical tech stepping into the OR, and as an adult student studying for an exam. I truly don’t believe I would have made it to the place I am at today without hope.

When it comes to being homeless, it’s easy to give up and fall into sorrow. Don’t give up. If you’re homeless right now, find organizations like Cornerstone Community Outreach. They will help with food, clothes, shelter, training, and housing referrals; these steps will get you where you need to go. It is not easy and I’m not trying to minimize the situation, but there is help, there is hope!”

  • Shirley Richards, as told to Beth Nicholls

The Blessing of Sharing Food

CCOinfo graphic foodEvery Wednesday over 150 people gather in the CCO dining room to “shop” for nutritious food. Canned vegetables, meat, pasta, grains, nuts, boxed food, and more, a wide variety of groceries are offered each week and over 25% consist of nutritious, fresh fruits and vegetables. The majority of CCO food pantry patrons are senior citizens. The bags of groceries they take home provides the financial relief needed to pay rent, obtain important prescription medications, or other necessities, on a fixed income.

Chris Ramsey, CCO Pantry Supervisor, explained why CCO has offered groceries to neighbors for over 25 years. “We do it because we see the need. There are a lot of low-income and needy, elderly people in the Uptown area. There is a lot of food in America and hungry people who need it. The Greater Chicago Food Depository supplies us with a lot of good food and we are blessed to share it.”

In addition to having the pantry provide nutritious food, it is almost entirely run by volunteers. Mike Hertenstein, long time CCO supporter and recent pantry volunteer, had these thoughts about volunteering at the Food Pantry.

“Helping to hand out food on Wednesdays, I have been privileged to see the backstage community of volunteers at CCO. It is a richer and diverse, genuinely-organic, culture that makes everything possible there. People seem to really like each other, genuinely want to help, and have a sense that what they are doing is mutually beneficial. There is more going on than simply handing out food in these little encounters. There is a kind of a push back against all the impersonal treatment and brokenness found in many of these situations. People are extending humanity to each other. They wordlessly come together and do this thing together week after week. It’s kind of astonishing.”

Be a part of the CCO Food Pantry today by making a financial donation that will help fight hunger in Chicago! Thank you.