Chicago’s Best Baker Contest!

On Saturday, October 20th amateur bakers from all over Chicago competed at the first-ever Chicago’s Best Baker Contest. All proceeds from this fun event went to the families and single adults sheltered at Cornerstone. Over $2,500 was raised and a lot of delicious desserts were tasted. Those who purchased tastings and raffle tickets made this generous contribution possible. Thank you!

Congratulations to every who baked! Thank you to everyone who attended.
The list of winners in the categories of pies, cakes, cookies, pastries, bread, international, and showstopper appear below the photo gallery.

Here is the list of the winners in each category:

Chicago’s Best Bread Baker is Benjamin Holland!
Second Place Winner-  LeAnne Bennion
Third Place Winner –  Sara Witt

Chicago’s Best Cake Baker is Madeline Rocker!
Second Place Winner – Carolyn Berard
Third Place Winner – Meredith Chiarelli

Chicago’s Best Cookie Baker is Lori Szudarek!
Second Place Winner – Meredith Chiarelli
Third Place Winner – Sarah Hilz

Chicago’s Best International Baker is Luke Lusk!
Second Place Winner – Sabrina Markvaldas
Third Place Winner – Carolyn Berard

Chicago’s Best Pastry Baker is Audrey O’Shannah!
Second Place Winner – Luke Lusk
Third Place Winner – Emma Rosenthal

Chicago’s Best Pie Baker is Maria Del Favaro!
Second Place Winner –  Luke Lusk
Third Place Winner –  Judine O’Shea

Chicago’s Best Show Stopper Baker is Meredith Chiarelli!
Second Place Winner – Deanna Stegal
Third Place Winner – Sarah Hilz

Congratulations, everyone!

 

Strength From Each Other

Strength From Each Other

The large brick building reads “7030” and we know we have arrived at Rochelle and Dionte’s new apartment. A nearby grassy lot dotted with bright yellow dandelions makes the corner feel open and friendly. Trees, lush with leaves, stand tall along the street and black iron fences surround each sturdy brick home and apartment building. Brittany and Amanda, the family’s CCO case managers, are especially excited to visit everyone and see their new home.

With an enthusiastic smile Dionte meets us outside and leads us up the stairs to his family’s second-floor apartment. Rochelle meets us at the door with baby Leia in her arms. Two-year-old Dionte Junior toddles over, curious to find out who has come to visit.

Rochelle and Dionte’s apartment is bright, spacious and clean. We immediately feel the warmth of a real home and the energy and liveliness that small children bring to a space. After hugs and a quick tour, we settle down in the living room to talk.

Rochelle, an attentive and affectionate mother, cradles baby Leia in her arms and talks about her work and her dreams. As she speaks she patiently puts the pacifier back in the baby’s mouth and gently plays with Leia’s tiny curls. “I appreciate Cornerstone but we needed our own place. Being homeless was filled with ups and downs. Sometimes we felt ready to give up but then we looked at our kids and knew we couldn’t give up.”

Rochelle has just completed training to be a full-time driver for a company that transports people with physical challenges. The work helps others and also gives Rochelle the opportunity to work full-time and over-time. “It will keep us housed and on our feet.”

Her true employment ambition is to study to become an ultrasound technician. “That is the next step,” she says with a smile. She recalls each of her children’s ultrasounds with pleasure and wants to be a part of bringing that joy and excitement to other expectant families. “Sharing those moments with other families would bring me joy and I would have a skilled, well-paying job that I love.”

With a friendly and tenacious personality, Dionte is pursuing a brighter future with his family’s security at the heart of his plans. Dionte, a self-described family man, has committed to his role because as a child, he lost his own father to gun violence. “My dad died when he was nineteen. He didn’t get to see me grown up. I want to see my kids grow up.”

Dionte explains how he has had the employment door slammed in his face repeatedly due to a felony in his past. “But I kept trying. I got a job at Target because I was honest about my past offense and they hired me because they could see I was a hardworking person who didn’t lie. I work the night shift and Rochelle works the day shift; that way one of us is always with the kids.” Dionte is on a waiting list for a construction work apprenticeship and he is enrolled in acting classes at Chicago’s famous Second City Acting Program. Energized and unwilling to pin all of his hopes on one occupation, he is remaining flexible and open to new opportunities.

When asked what motivated them to make it through homelessness they both speak about their children, each other, and their family as a whole. “Homelessness can be a really depressing time but we got our strength from each other. We knew we couldn’t give up,” Rochelle explains.

It was a joy to visit one of CCO’s successful, ambitious young families. They have made it through homelessness with an even deeper commitment to creating a stable future for themselves and their family.

Rochelle had this to say about her experience with homelessness, “As dark as that tunnel may seem there is always going to be light at the end.” Dionte adds, “I want to always do better for my kids. I want to provide for them and make sure they have what they need. This is not the end. I feel we have a long way to go and I think we’re going to get there.”

They certainly will. Together.

(Names have been changed)

– By Beth Nicholls

Permanently Housed Up 29 % at CCO

Every 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.

While staying at Cornerstone the case-management staff work hard to make sure each person receives the assistance and services available. The work with the residents is tracked closely to be able to monitor what works and what areas can be improved on. One area tracked is how many people who come to Cornerstone homeless, successfully move into permanent housing.

We are glad to announce, that the number of people that have been housed this year so far is up by 29 percent! Already 24 families and their children, and 51 single men and women, all of whom stayed in one of CCO’s shelters moved from homelessness to permanent housing. That’s 9 more families and 16 more men and women than this time last year.

All of this can only be accomplished by your support, the hard work of the people finding home, and Cornerstone’s staff. Please consider donating today to help this wonderful work continue, and more people find home.

A donation of $4 per day can provide these wonderful, successful services for the homeless in Chicago. Donate Today!

Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K charity donation

Shamrock-Shuffle 1-900x601

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.

Survival on the Winter Streets

Snow

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! 

 

Giving Tuesday!

Giving Tuesday Graphic

Generosity Gets Its Day!

It’s Giving Tuesday! Join us for a day of generosity and giving. Giving Tuesday follows Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday. It is a global event that was created as an opportunity to give generously following a weekend of shopping and consumerism. Consider giving to CCO this Giving Tuesday!

Their are a lot of ways to give…

Your financial gift will provide warm meals, a safe shelter space, and compassionate care, to the homeless families and individuals we shelter. This year we hope to raise $18,000 in on-line donations between Giving Tuesday and December 31. Consider donating today!

Your volunteer hours will go a long way in serving our shelter guests. Consider being a part of Team CCO, our charitable fitness team in 2017. Or maybe you’d like to do what you love and donate a portion of your earnings to CCO. Christmas is just around the corner. If you are interested in donating new gift items for the families and singles sheltered at CCO please contact Eve at eve@ccolife.org.

Here’s a few more

Share this post with friends and family. It’s about Giving Tuesday and explains ways to get involved at CCO.

– Take an #unselfie and share it on your Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram account. Here’s an example of one. An #unselfie is a simple way to show that you support the good things that are happening at CCO. It’s fun, free, and makes others aware of a charity your stand behind.

– Read and share one of our CCO Success Stories and encourage friends and family to support CCO through prayer, a financial gift, gently-used items, or volunteer hours.

– Share one of our Facebook or CCOlife posts and encourage others to do the same. Click here to read a post that is about hunger and the CCO food pantry or search for another one that interests you.

– Encourage others to join our charitable fitness group, Team CCO.

Share this post that talks about the huge variety of people we shelter and care for at CCO.
These are just a few ways you can show your support for CCO.
Thank you for all the ways you’ve stood behind us over the years.

Generosity Gets Its Day!

New Costumes Needed!

Costumes! Calling all costumes! Our 2016 Fall Frenzy is fast approaching and we need your new or gently-used costumes. The Fall Frenzy gives CCO children an opportunity to dress-up, play, enjoy treats, crafts, and a fun dance party in the safety of the CCO dining room.

Nearly 150 children are sheltered at CCO with their families. Help them have an outstanding fall costume party by picking up an extra costume or two when you’re at the store or donating last year’s costume!

If you would like to help in this way please email Corey at corey@ccolife.org or Beth at bnicholls@ccolife.org.

Kicks For Kids!

Back-to-SchoolKicks For Kids!

Over 150 children are sheltered with their families at CCO. Many of them leave CCO each morning and head to school. Will you consider making a generous donation that would allow us to buy a new pair of shoes for each of our school-age children? Help our kids start their school year off right!

Please donate today!

Over 10,000 Pounds of Food!

Thank you to everyone who walked for CCO at this years Greater Chicago Food Depository (GCFD) Hunger Walk. Those who joined us for the Hunger Walk helped to create over 10,000 pounds of food from the GCFD for CCO shelter guests and food pantry patrons.

Each day over 350 men, women, and children are sheltered at CCO. The CCO dining room offers nutritious meals to all our shelter guests. Each week over 150 households visit the CCO Food Pantry to choose from healthy grocery items.

If you weren’t able to join us for the Hunger Walk you can still make a donation that will make a difference for those we shelter. Safe shelter, nutritious meals, and intensive case management services, are a critical part of the services CCO offers to the families and individuals sheltered with us. Consider donating today!

 

Devin’s Eagle Scout Project

Thank you Devin! Devin Escue has been working on a special Eagle Scout Project. Through tireless fundraising Devin has been able to purchase new toys for the CCO Rooftop Playground. The Playground Party was a huge success and the kids were able to try out new hula hoops, balls, bikes, and even a basketball hoop. Devin provided delicious treats and the moms and children had a great time. Thanks again Devin!