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!

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!

Happy Birthday to You!

Happy Birthday to You!Happy birthday to you! Joel celebrated his birthday last week at CCO. He and his mother were given new toys, a decorated cake, and party supplies to celebrate his special day. CCO shelters nearly 150 children and each birthday is important. A small network of dedicated volunteers bake cakes, decorate them, and deliver them to CCO for the children living in our shelter. Donors purchase cake mixes, canned icing, candles, and decorations, to make each cake special.

It’s important to have special events and celebrations for the families and individuals we shelter because being homeless is hard difficult. Isn’t it great to think that the children and parents sheltered at CCO will look back on their homeless experience with these bright and special moments?

Good things are happening every day at CCO! Continue to support those we shelter by making a financial donation today!

Are you interested in donating cake mixes, canned icing, cake decorations, party items, birthday gift bags or wrapping paper for birthdays at CCO? If so, please contact Eve at eve@ccolife.org.

Thank you!

Birthday Cakes

Congratulations!

Successfully Housed Family!

Congratulations! It is always a joy to see one of the families sheltered at CCO moving from homelessness to housing! Our most recently housed family is pictured here proudly displaying the keys to their new apartment.

In 2015, 42% of CCO’s total shelter population is made up of children age 17 and under. 37% of these are minors age 12 and under. Providing safe shelter and working with the families that come to CCO is a critical part of our mission.

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!

Coat Angels Warm Our Hearts

The Coat Angels visited Cornerstone Community Outreach once again and brought new fleece, coats, hats, and gloves for all of the children sheltered with the families. A huge variety of colors and style were available for the children to choose from. The Coat Angels made sure that the sizing was right for each child. Parents and children were so excited to have a new, warm, colorful coat to wear for throughout the cold Chicago winter.

One little girl was so pleased with her coat that she didn’t take it off until bedtime. When she woke up the next morning she immediately put it back on and wore her treasured coat for the entire day!

Thank you Coat Angels for contributing to the lives of the children sheltered at CCO with such a practical, yet thoughtful gift!

Fred, Clara, and a Family of Six

Providing Shelter

Every week CCO shelter guests face new and unique challenges. We realize each person is different, and we try to assist each person with that in mind.

Fred just turned 84, he is a Korean War veteran who came to us without an ID or income, and he now has both, which has created a new chance to meet his next goal: permanent housing. Ray just returned from a stint in prison, so we’ll be attempting to help him get his documents, make his appointment, stay sober, get an income and eventually successfully move into housing. Kenneth is a Vietnam veteran, who was just evicted, but because of an ongoing mental illness, we are helping him by being his advocate, and supplying him with transportation and taking him to his appointments, making sure he’ll get into subsidized housing as soon as possible.

Even though there are many tear-jerking stories rising out of CCO, we cannot forget the countless stories of hope. Dawson came to us from prison and without an income, and after a year of faithfully keeping his appointments, he left us with an income and permanent housing. Tommy, a Vietnam veteran, came to us after being homeless for 30 long years; he now receives benefits and has moved into permanent supportive housing. Due to some health issues, Clara struggled to stay employed and therefore ended up homeless, she came to us, found another job and eventually moved into her own apartment a couple weeks ago.

The stories never end at CCO, on Friday a newly homeless 18 year old male entered our doors, followed by a couple with 4 young children, only to be followed by a fragile 70 year old lady, assisted by a walker. Each and every one of them is unique and needs to be assisted in different ways; whether it’s getting a job, receiving a pension, attending daycare or starting training. In a world that, at times, seems void of hope, our goal is to offer them fresh hope, an ability to move forward and let each person know how important they truly are.

Providing safe shelter, nutritious meals, and compassionate case management services is important in the lives of the families and individuals we serve. Please consider donating today!

  • Jeremy Nicholls

Handmade Blankets!

Sweet Blanket Donation!

One outstanding CCO donor has been sewing soft, cute blankets for the infants and toddlers in our family shelter programs. Parents have been encouraged by such a practical yet encouraging gift and the babies love them! It’s another example of people doing what they love and doing good!

Each blanket has a colorful note card attached to it saying,”Dear Mother, This is a Prayer Blanket because while I was sewing it I prayed for you, your baby and family in that God would bless you everyday.”

Nearly 150 children under the age of 18 are sheltered with their families at CCO. Help us continue to provide safe shelter, nutritious meals, and compassionate case management services, to everyone who comes through our doors. Consider donating new or gently-used items or making a monetary donation today. Thank you!

Back to School New Shoes Fundraising Program.

Back_to_School_Shoes

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!

*From SantaProgram.com