Back to School New Shoes Fundraising Program.


Santa Program is at it again, making a difference for the children!

Back to School New Shoes Fundraising Program.

“We’re fundraising to buy new back to school shoes for as many of the children at CCO as we can this year.

All donations through the link on this page will be used by the social workers to take the neediest of children on a shopping spree to buy one pair of new shoes (and maybe a pair of new socks if we raise enough money). We all know the back to school shopping is chaotic, but please take a moment to help at least one child start the new year with a brand new pair of shoes.” *

Click to Read more and make a donation today!


Happy Father’s Day!

lydell - Copy

The staff, volunteers, and residents of CCO would like to wish you a very Happy Father’s Day! CCO is proud to welcome homeless father’s with children. Fathers often find it difficult to access shelter space because many shelters are designed for single adults, or women with children. It has been our privilege to assist dads with kids as they stabilize their families and work toward permanent housing.

Take a moment to visit Our Stories and scroll down to choose a success story featuring a father who has secured permanent housing for himself and his children. Pictured above is Lydell, a friend and former CCO resident, who worked against the odds to make a home for himself and Little Lydell (also pictured). Take a minute to read their story.

Happy Father’s Day! We hope you have a great weekend!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother's Day 2015

Since the mid-1980’s CCO has sheltered mothers with children. We are grateful for the privilege to shelter and serve homeless moms and kids. We’d like to say, Happy Mother’s Day, to all the mom’s sheltered at CCO and all the mom’s who support them.

Visit Our Stories and read about one of our successfully housed families.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Children Experiencing Homelessness

Children at CCO

The National Coalition for the Homeless states that the average age of a homeless person in the U.S. is 9 years old. This number challenges a lot of the typical stereotypes that people associate with homelessness in America. Children who are homeless have special needs. Stability through on-going education, proper nutrition, and development through play space, can help lessen the burden of homelessness.

At CCO, we welcome homeless families of all kinds, mothers with children, fathers with children, couples with children, and three-generational families. Case managers compassionately work to assist families with school transfers or transportation, assessments and referrals for children struggling in an emotional or academic area, and assistance with specific challenges that may arise. We are privileged to take part in the successes of our shelter families. Consider making a donation today and be a part of helping to stabilize and strengthen the families sheltered at CCO! Thank you!

“I Don’t Have To Run Anymore” – Misty’s Story

Misty Post Picture

My mother was a former nun. She left the convent to take care of my grandmother. All my life she has been a Christian woman, a great listener. She’s a very non-judgmental person. Every time I got in trouble she was there for me. To this day, she’s my best friend. My father worked two jobs. He provided for us and worked hard but he was an alcoholic. We didn’t see him much. My parents divorced when I was 5. As I got older, I wanted love and I went looking for it.
When I reached my teens I started to drink and smoke marijuana. I was looking for affection and attention. At fifteen I became pregnant and I dropped out of high school. After I had my baby, Carlos, I got work at a local grocery store and by 16 I had my own apartment. Rent was $300 a month back then. My aunt helped with babysitting.
I was 19 when I found out I was HIV positive and I thought the world was ending. By that time I was a single mom with three small children. Thankfully, all my children tested negative for HIV. Because I tested positive, I really thought I was dying. I was in a relationship that was physically abusive. I had to get myself and the children out of the house and into a safe situation. I also felt that the responsible thing to do was to make sure my kids were okay and with people who would take care of them. I did what I thought was best at the time and sent my kids to live with my aunt because I believed I was going to die. Depression from my diagnosis sent me into an addiction I had never experienced before.
I wasn’t taking HIV meds because it made me so sick. In 2004, I got married to a man who truly loved me. I knew we could make a life together. Soon after our marriage, I found out I was pregnant with our daughter, Alexis. I was very worried the baby would get the virus but the doctor explained to me that the HIV medication would increase the chance that my baby would test negative for HIV. I began taking the medicine and stopped using drugs. Everything was beautiful. I was married, becoming healthy and pregnant with my baby girl.
Then in 2005, my oldest son, Carlos, was diagnosed with leukemia. That year, my husband had a sudden heart attack the day after Thanksgiving and died. Two weeks later, Carlos died. I went into a complete depression for two years and I went back to drugs. Losing my son and husband was so painful I couldn’t stand it. Alexis was staying with my aunt and my other child. Within a year I got caught with drugs and ended up on probation. It was around this time that my family did an intervention. They knew I was grieving and they told me I needed help. They were right. I checked myself into Haymarket House Treatment Center for 9 months. In treatment I finally got educated about my HIV. Alexis, who was three years old at the time, came to stay with me at Haymarket House after my first 60 days. We stayed in the Mother and Child Program. We loved it! She enjoyed the daycare program and other children. I was getting the help I needed. We renewed our bond and I got help through grief and addictions counseling. I graduated from the program! I continued to go to counseling for years after my graduation. It was very important.
After Haymarket House, I found an apartment but I was using my entire check for rent. It was impossible to afford market rate housing and I found myself homeless. I needed to go somewhere to apply for subsidized housing and save money. I got a referral to CCO. Alexis had a backpack and I had a bag of clothes when we arrived. That’s all we brought with us. When we walked down Clifton Avenue I didn’t know where to go. Kathy, a CCO security guard, brought me into Hannah House. Staff had made up our beds and gave us everything we needed. They made us feel really welcome. During our stay Alexis enjoyed the after-school program and got help from the tutors there. I appreciated the computer lab and got assistance from my case manager, Courtney. She really helped with my paperwork and housing sign-ups. I wanted stable, permanent housing where Alexis and I could make a home of our own.
An organization that works with families affected by HIV/ AIDS got in touch with me. They told me that I could be a part of one of their permanent housing programs. I moved in October of 2013. At the time I didn’t have a lot of the things we needed for a new apartment. I saved my money while I was at CCO but I couldn’t afford furniture. CCO gave me two dressers, a big food pack, dishes, pans and household items and brought it all to my apartment. Standing in my new place I remember thinking, “I don’t have to run anymore. I’ve always run to something I thought was better. I’m content in my home now. I can settle down and unpack.” Our building has an after-school program for Alexis, summer camp projects, security, computer lab, and on-site case managers. It is truly a home.
After I moved from CCO into my apartment I began to take courses to be become an HIV counselor. This has been a dream of mine for a long time. I remember finding out I was HIV positive when I was 19 years old. I thought I was going to die and that caused all kinds of problems in my life. I want to help others who find out they are positive. I am happy to say that I completed the training and I am a certified HIV counselor. I am registered for an upcoming training to be an HIV tester. I continue to take classes and I look forward to the day when I can be a part of a shelter or clinic that serves people with HIV.

Cornerstone helped us when we were homeless. They helped us get through homelessness and into housing. I feel like Cornerstone is my family.

“That’s my life so far… stay tuned for updates!”
Fundraising Websites – Crowdrise

Homelessness & Children


On average 140 children are sheltered with their parents each day at CCO. The Chicago Coalition for the Homeless uses Chicago Public School information to estimate the number of homeless children in Chicago. In the 2013-2014 academic school year 22,144 school-aged children were homeless in our city. The number of homeless children has increased by 18% from the previous school year.

Many factors contribute to the increase in homelessness, such as, the demolition of tens of thousands of CHA housing units with very few replaced, a time-limit on public benefits, inadequate income from employment, lack of safe affordable childcare, and decrease in government assistance. All of these deficiencies have created a greater demand for safe shelters for families of all descriptions.

CCO is privileged to welcome and assist homeless families of all descriptions. This includes, three-generational families, couples with children, mothers with children, and fathers with children. Join us in providing safe shelter, nutritious meals, and intensive case management services to the families sheltered at CCO. Consider donating today!

Thank you!

Families Celebrate the Holiday at CCO!

Crystal post
On Tuesday morning, December 23, CCO staff and volunteers handed out gifts to all the families who stay with us at Cornerstone. Presents are also given to those families who were once homeless and are now housed, along with some parents and grandparents who can’t afford to buy their “little ones” anything this Christmas.
The tireless workers ensure that every child, along with every parent, receives gifts! It is truly remarkable! It involves many donors, volunteers and staff dedicating an enormous amount of love, time, effort and money for our families who are experiencing homelessness. Every year I marvel how it all comes together and how hundreds of women, men and children are blessed! I marvel at how those who often feel unloved and rejected, feel loved and accepted during this season!
Each family receives a variety of wrapped gifts that are “age-appropriate”. We were able to give away presents like basketballs, dolls, games, lego sets, art kits, books and countless other toys! The children all receive a few toys each, while the parents and teenagers are often blessed with gift cards and electronics.
This year was no different; everyone was stunned, was incredibly grateful and had a wonderful time. They kept saying “thank you”, over and over again!
Families who are experiencing homelessness, are often ignored and forgotten during the Christmas season. They are in a place they’d rather not be; they’d rather spend Christmas in their own apartment! They often do not expect anything, and are often racked with the guilt of having to live with their kids in a homeless shelter. Many are often wondering how they’ll even be able to purchase anything for their “shorties”.
Unfortunately, most families are expecting to be ignored and forgotten again. Yet, I’m happy to say, it is a very different reality here in Cornerstone…..
This season is remarkable. Not only are they blessed with all these gifts, but over several weeks, Churches and other organizations come to CCO and cook them amazing meals, take them to restaurants and volunteer much time and effort. These families certainly know they have been remembered. These families certainly know they have not been ignored and forgotten!
So, it is always a joy to be part of this and to surprise them. It is always a joy to see the unexpected delight and happiness form on their faces, knowing they have been remembered and loved!
….and isn’t this what Christmas is all about?
….isn’t this why the Christ-child came into the world, bringing a new Kingdom of Love and Hope? A Kingdom that elevates, saves and surprises those who are homeless, sick, marginalized, rejected, ignored and abandoned.
Surprising people in our dark world, with unexpected rays of love and light!
Surprising people, who think all is lost, with new gifts and new Hope!
Surprising people, who’ve been cast aside by this world, by remembering them and making sure they know they are loved and not forgotten!

Children & Homelessness

CCO Children

Using data from the US Census and Public School records, the National Center on Family Homelessness reports that nearly 2.5 million American children experienced homelessness in 2013. That is 1 in 30 children. At CCO, we are grateful to be able to offer safe shelter to children with their parents and help them work towards a stable future.

While staying at CCO our school age children attend free after-school tutoring through Chicago Hopes. Back to school events and holiday parties make our kids feel special and cared for. One of our valuable volunteers delivers a birthday party to the shelter when it’s one of the children’s birthdays. She finds out what kind of cake the child likes and makes it. She wraps new gifts from the donations we receive. It’s great to think that kids will look back at their time of homelessness and also have these special memories. And, of course, compassionately supporting and assisting parents throughout their homeless experience at CCO has a lasting impact on the lives of their children.

Join us in this important effort. Consider donating today! Thank you!

To read the full report by the National Center on Family Homelessness click here.

Making the Holiday Bright

Christmas at CCO

The Holiday Season should be a special time for everyone. At CCO we try to make the holidays bright for each person. You are an important part of that effort. There are a variety of ways you can be a blessing to our shelter guests. Donate new unwrapped toys or gift items for those staying in one of our family shelter, donate funds for a Christmas party in the single men’s or women’s shelter program, or organize your church or civic group to provide a holiday meal. We work extra hard this time of year to make everyone at CCO feel special and cared for.

Join us this holiday season in making Christmas bright for our shelter guests. If you have questions contact Eve at Thank you!

Five Families Housed!

CCO Family

Recently, five families sheltered at CCO moved into permanent housing! We are proud to see the determination of our shelter guests and the assistance and support of our case management team in reaching this excellent goal!

CCO provides shelter for families of all descriptions. Unusual family arrangements often have difficulty finding shelter space. Fathers with children struggle to find shelter placement. CCO welcome dads with kids and has been a part of their amazing success stories. To read Lydell’s success story click here.

Safe shelter, nutritious meals and intensive case management services matter in the lives of homeless men, women and children. Help us continue to serve Chicago’s most vulnerable population. Consider donating today!

Thank you!