Each person who comes through the doors of CCO has a unique history. The homeless father with children, parents with teens, pregnant women, people of all orientations, the elderly and aging, the physically challenged, are accepted at CCO. Case managers work alongside single adults and families to create individualized goals and assist with job training and referrals, education, transportation, benefits assistance, mental and physical health referrals and more. These wrap-around services are the stepping-stones to permanent housing and a stable future.
Fight2Feed Serves Up a Delicious Mother’s Day Dinner!
Fight2Feed has really gone above and beyond again! Thank you to all the Fight2Feed volunteers who purchased, prepped, chopped, simmered, and baked a delicious dinner for #MothersDay at CCO. Our shelter families and single adults were blessed with delicious lemon chicken, BBQ chicken, sloppy joes, fresh carrots, green beans and much more. Dessert was also served and the children got special treats.
Through food rescue, reduced cost food purchases, and a group of organized and energized volunteers, Fight2Feed fights hunger in Chicago and beyond. We are proud to say that this vibrant organization has partnered with CCO and provides healthy, delicious meals to our shelter guests and our homeless friends on the street.
The volunteers at Fight2Feed are working to go nationwide with their mission which is, “fighting hunger with rescued food and mobilizing it to friends in need.”
*All image and photo credit goes to Fight2Feed.
Save the Date!
The 32 nd Annual Greater Chicago Food Depository Hunger Walk will step off on Saturday, September 16, 2017. The 5k walk normally takes place in late-June but the fun has been moved to September this year. Plan to join us and help boost CCO’s food allotment with the Food Depot by bringing your family and friends along this September. Your walk will help our shelter guests and food pantry patrons get the food they need.
Stay tuned for more information about how you can fight hunger in Chicago!
As 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.
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.”
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!
Over 350 consider CCO home while they are working to establish permanent housing. It’s important that Christmas is a joy for every family and single person sheltered with us. The giving doesn’t stop with the parents and children. The residents of our single women and single men’s shelter are no less important. Each program celebrates with a festive party that includes decorations, a delicious holiday meal, and gifts. Everyone is valued and no one is left out.
As you celebrate the holidays this year remember CCO and consider making a holiday or year-end donation. Your gift is 100% tax deductible and you will have the knowledge that you are a part of making the holidays and every day brighter for our shelter guests. If you would like to donate new items for our Holiday party for single shelter guests please contact Eve at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or consider making a financial donation that will be spent to fill the greatest need. Thank you!
“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
Every 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.
Join us this Christmas and make the Holiday Season truly bright for those sheltered at CCO! Consider making a financial donation that will make this time of year better for a teen, senior citizen, parent, or child, who is experiencing homelessness. You can make a difference!
A lovely thing about Christmas is that it’s compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together.
– Garrison Keillor
Over 130 children and youth are sheltered with their parents at CCO, during the holidays and all throughout the year. Our donors, volunteers, and supporters have always been a valuable part of making the season bright for each and every child.
The giving doesn’t stop with the families. The residents of our single women and single men’s shelters are no less important. Each program celebrates with a festive party that includes decorations, a delicious holiday meal and gifts. Everyone is valued and no one is left out.
Help us make the Holiday Season shine at CCO! Consider donating new toys, teen presents, or items for our single adults. Don’t like shopping? You can help by making a financial gift that will allow our Christmas volunteers to provide presents for families who arrive at CCO a day or two before Christmas. contact Eve at email@example.com if you would like to help us this Holiday Season.