26.2 Miles!

Team CCO will be going the extra mile to help alleviate homelessness on Sunday, October 11th. Runners are cheered on by over 1.7 million spectators as they jog through 29 Chicago neighborhoods. We are proud of our team and look forward to seeing them cross the finish line!

Show your support for the team by donating toward one team members run. Your donation will benefit our shelter guests who rely on CCO for shelter, nutrition, and assistance in working toward housing.

Thank you!

We’ll Leave The Light On…


We’ll Leave the Light on for You

by Sandy Ramsey, CCO Executive Director

“Sometimes I work late at my desk at the shelter. I can see the security monitor that shows who comes in and out of the door in our shelter foyer. You can see the flow of the foyer lights and through the glass door, the dark of night. It makes the foyer look inviting, welcoming, secure.

I think about the people coming in and going out. An older woman with a purse and several bags rests on the step before opening the door for the walk up a flight of stairs to her bed. She has come from her job, dressed up with make-up and earrings. No one would believe she’s homeless. Health and family problems have taken their toll and now she’s temporarily with us.

A man comes in late from his job. He looks tired. No one at work knows he’s homeless. Probably not a subject he discusses around the water cooler. Instead of coming home to his own house, family, and dog, he comes home to a large noisy shelter – not exactly something that builds a man’s self-esteem. But we’re grateful he has a bed with us.

Some people make faces into the camera while they wait to be buzzed in. Did they have a good day? Do they have a sense of humor despite their situation? Or a strong faith in God to get them through their homelessness?

Noisy children tumble out of the foyer door onto the street, followed by a weary parent, taking one last trip to the store before the evening curfew. Thinking of my own children, I wonder how I would fare if I was homeless with them. How would I explain to them, how would I maintain my own sense of family among so many others under one roof? What do the children think? Are they upset about losing the housing they have? What do they face when they go to school? Serious questions, but for now they are happy and I am thankful we can provide a place for them to be with their parents.

Another woman comes in for the night. Her whole life has been plagued by abuse and poverty. Her difficult childhood led to a troubled adult life, riddled with substance abuse and bad choices. Being chronically homeless and always needy, you’d have to look a little deeper to catch her funny personality and deeper strengths. She has been through our program several times and each times comes a little bit closer to making a turn for the better. Will this be the time she goes forward without looking back?

Another man goes out to begin the evening shift at his job. Someone else leans out the door and calls out last minute good-nights to a friend. Eventually the traffic in the foyer slows down as another day in the lives of homeless people in a homeless shelter comes to a close. Tomorrow there will be another chance, more choices, more hope. We will be there and we’ll leave the light on for you.

Compassion asks…

Art Image

“Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into the places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.”

– Henry Nouwen

Expedia Cares!

“It’s beautiful!” “The color blue makes me happy!”

These are the excited comments spoken by just a few of the ladies sheltered with their children at CCO’s Hannah House. They expressed feeling uplifted by the work done through the Expedia employee group who came to CCO for the Expedia Global Day of Caring.

This week volunteer employees gathered at Hannah House shelter to repaint the living space, and to sort donated items for our shelter guests. All the hard work paid off with a fresh, up-dated look that encouraged our shelter guests who call CCO home for a brief time. Thank you Expedia! You truly care! #expediacares

To learn more about the Expedia Global Day of Caring click here.


46th Ward Award for Best Non-Profit!

46 Ward Awards

CCO would like to say a huge “Thank You!” to everyone who voted for us to receive the 2015 46th Ward Award for Best Non-Profit. CCO received the award, presented by Alderman James Cappellman, earlier this week at the Uptown Underground.

Andrew Winter, CCO’s Chief Financial Officer was there to accept the award and say thank you on behalf of Cornerstone. Here is a copy of Andrew’s speech:

On behalf of Cornerstone Community Outreach, Sandy Ramsey our Executive Director, and all the staff who diligently work to make Cornerstone great, I’d like to thank the residents of our ward for choosing Cornerstone Community Outreach as Best Non-Profit. With your support, homeless families and individuals are receiving quality care and interim housing, and getting permanently housed. Someone who is homeless is in a very complicated time of their life, and we hope to understand each persons needs and meet them accordingly.I’d also like to thank all the non-profits and organizations, that collaborate in our ward and throughout the city, to meet the needs of those seeking assistance in our ward. Thank you, Chicago Department of Family Support Services for your work in coordinating these efforts, and also to Alderman Cappellman. If you would like to know more about Cornerstone, or make a wonderful donation, please feel free to talk to me!

Again, thank you very much!


Happy Birthday to You!

Birthday Cake

Birthdays are a special time at CCO. Every child who has a birthday while being sheltered with us receives new toys, a cake (of their choosing), and a lot of sweet congratulations! Be a part of making important birthday parties happen by donating new, unopened cake mixes (all kinds), canned icing, birthday candles, and cake decoration. To organize a drop-off time please email Eve at eve@ccolife.org.

Thanks to all our wonderful donors who have dropped off birthday items so far this year!


Ordinances that Criminalize…


We want to applaud the Human Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice for standing up against ordinances that criminalize homelessness. Attorney’s  for the Justice Department argued that homeless persons sleeping outside are having their 8th Amendment rights violated by ordinances against them.

“Sleeping is a life-sustaining activity — i.e., it must occur at some time in some place. If a person literally has nowhere else to go, then enforcement of the anti-camping ordinance against that person criminalizes her for being homeless,” the filing stated.
“Criminally prosecuting those individuals for something as innocent as sleeping, when they have no safe, legal place to go, violates their constitutional rights,” Vanita Gupta, the head of the Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice, said in a statement.

To read the entire court document click here.

To learn more the criminalization of food sharing and public sleeping from the National Coalition for the Homeless click here.

Education is the key…

Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.
— George Washington Carver

Butterfly image

School will soon begin for the children sheltered with their families at CCO. This year CCO has partnered with Santa Program to help fund raise for new shoes for CCO’s school-age children. CCO shelters over 100 children, many of whom need shoes to begin their academic year right. Please help us meet this need by visiting Santa Program’s website. You will find more information about the ways your gently-used shoes could go to a child in need or you could make a financial donation toward school shoes.


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!