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

Thank you, Coat Angels!

Coat Angels Give the Gift of Warmth!

We want to say a very special thank you to the Coat Angels! The children sheltered at CCO have been blessed with the gift of warmth thanks to this fabulous group of volunteers and donors! Each year the Coat Angels visit CCO and deliver new coats, hats, gloves, and other winter wear accessories to our children. Thank you, Coat Angels!

To learn more about the Coat Angels and all the good work they do click here.

Happy Birthday to You!

Happy Birthday to you! Did you know that CCO staff and volunteers bake, ice, decorate and deliver a birthday cake to each child who has a birthday while sheltered at CCO? It’s true! And mom and dad are given wrapped gifts for the birthday boy or girl. It’s a truly sweet way to encourage the kids at CCO.

We need your help! We are looking for CCO supporters who would like to purchase new cake mixes, icing, and decorations (candles, sprinkles, etc) to make sure the birthday elves are never short of supplies. If you are interested in giving in this way contact Eve at eve@ccolife.org. Thanks!

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!

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!

Happy Holiday from CCO

We hope that you have a joyous and happy holiday!

CCO staff, volunteers, and residents would like to say a huge Thank You to each one of our generous Christmas donors! The 2016 holiday season at CCO was filled with fun events, festive food, parties, and gifts for our shelter guests. We want to say a special thank you to the donors that made the season bright by donating financially, creating an event, volunteering or purchasing gifts that blessed our guests. The children, parents, and single adults, sheltered at CCO felt encouraged and remembered this year.

As you celebrate the holidays this year please remember CCO shelter guests and consider making a 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.

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

CCO Thanksgiving graphicHappy Thanksgiving from the staff, volunteers, and shelter guests at CCO! We are thankful for your support, involvement, time, energy, and efforts on behalf of the work we do. CCO families and individuals will be enjoying a turkey dinner with all the trimmings. You’re involvement helps provide safe shelter, nutritious meals, and essential supportive services to those sheltered at CCO. Please consider donating today. Thank you!

Fall Frenzy Photo Album!

We want to say a huge thank you to all the staff, volunteers and donors who made the Fall Frenzy a fun celebration! The children and families sheltered at CCO enjoyed delicious treats, face painting, crafts, custom-made balloon creations, and dancing to their own special requests.

A group of very generous donors provided CCO children with new costumes. We owe a debt of gratitude to Francis Parker Elementary School, University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, the Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender, and St. Josaphat School. Together these outstanding organizations donated over 200 costumes. Families sheltered at CCO were able to shop through Ironman, Cleopatra, Hulk, Princess, and a wide variety of other options to find that special dress-up. Thank you!

CCO provides a safe space for nearly 150 children who are sheltered with their families. If you would like to help provide safe shelter, nutritious meals, and  intensive supportive services to the families and individuals sheltered at CCO consider donating today. Click here to be redirected to our Donate Page.

 

Hunger Awareness Month

Hunger Slider - Copy“For now I ask no more than the justice of eating.”
— Pablo Neruda, Chilean Poet, Nobel Prize Winner

Join CCO in the fight against hunger in Chicago, where 1 in 6 people experience hunger and food insecurity. What is food insecurity? It’s when a person does not know whether they will be able to eat their next meal or meals because of lack of money.

At CCO, we are committed to offering nutritious meals to the hundreds of families and individuals who are sheltered with us. Food is a critical element in stabilizing a person’s health so that they are able to attend school, begin to recover from trauma, complete job training, access housing, and care for themselves and their family. In addition to our shelter guests, the CCO Food Pantry offers groceries to over 150 households each week.

Please consider making a donation to CCO today that will benefit those we serve and help them along the road to wellness. Click here to visit our donation page.

Can’t donate at this time? You can get involved by volunteering your time at CCO. We truly couldn’t fight poverty in Chicago without an army of valuable volunteers working alongside us. Serving meals, taking out the trash, cleaning, planting flowers, doing dishes, many hands make light work. Click here to visit our volunteer page.

Would you like to donate goods? Our CCO Free Store offers clothing and household items free of charge to everyone sheltered with us and many of our neighbors in need. The majority of the families and individuals who come to CCO for the first time have no income. Free clothing and shoes are necessary essentials. Gently-used items can be dropped off at 4628 N. Clifton Avenue in Chicago.

Are you an amateur athlete? CCO’s charitable fitness group, Team CCO, offers a fundraising avenue for those would like to run, walk, or climb their way to a better world. Click here to see what charitable fitness options are available to you.

Do you have a creative idea that will help people experiencing homelessness? Feel free to contact us at info@ccolife.org to make an inquiry.

CCO Back-to-School Bash 2016!

 

This year’s back-to-school bash encouraged and motivated the children sheltered at CCO with their families. We have a lot of outstanding groups and individuals to thank for such a great event. Thank you to Northeastern Illinois Alumni Association for providing backpacks to all the children at CCO. The kids were smiling from ear to ear as they walked out of the party with their newly-chosen backpack. Thank you!

Thanks to Kuumba Lynx, who once again, infused life and energy into the party. Though music and dance the youth of Kuumba Lynx entertained and uplifted everyone at the event.

Thanks to Scott from Twisticity who created balloon hats, animals, and flowers. The kids loved each creation!

Thank you to Papa John’s Pizza, who provided a deep discount on yummy pizza that the families enjoyed at the back-to-school bash!

Thanks to CircEsteem, who performed fun and amazing feats of circus fun at the party!

Thank you Shirley Richards for sharing from the heart. You motivated the children and the families alike with your personal story and words of encouragement. Thank you!

Thanks to the hard-working volunteer group from Church of the Living God in Traverse City, Michigan. We couldn’t have done it without you helping at each of the stations, applying face paint, handing out prizes, serving pizza, cake, and drinks, and helping with clean up. Thanks!

We want to say a HUGE thank you to River Street Bible Study, Phyllis Weir with the Santa Program, and an anonymous family, who fund raised for each of the children at CCO to choose a new pair of shoes. They will be stepping into the new school year with much-needed shoes. Thanks to all who helped in this way!

Last, but not least, Eve Haycock made the whole event possible. Thanks for your hard work, Eve!

Help Make CCO’s Back-to-School Bash Great!

Back To School

Are you interested in donating to really great cause? This Thursday we will be hosting CCO’s Back-to-School Bash! Consider making a donation today that will help cover the cost of backpacks, shoes, party and school supplies.

Over 150 children are sheltered at CCO with their families. Education is a stabilizing force for families experiencing homelessness. At CCO, we work with parents to make the transition to school as smooth as possible.Our yearly back-to-school event gives all our school age kids a chance to choose a backpack and supplies, participate in games, enjoy treats and listen to motivational speakers.