Permanently Housed Up By 29 Percent

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!

331 Birth Certificates & State ID’s

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311 Birth Certificates & State ID’s

Essential Identification

Often something as simple as identification can stand in the way of job training, education, employment, and housing. CCO case managers work hard to get essential identification so that goals can be met. As a result, families and single adults are brought one step closer to stability and “finding home.”

In 2016, 331 Birth Certificates and State ID’s were obtained by those sheltered at CCO. Many people entering CCO have no identification or income. Staff work with shelter guests to secure ID so that they can access housing lists, job training, schooling, medical assistance, and more. Without identification, it is impossible to move forward to secure housing.


Thank you for celebrating this important 2016 success with us. In 2017, we hope you continue to be a part of the fabulous things happening in the lives of those who experience homelessness. Please consider donating today!

 

269 Homeless to Housed!

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269 Homeless to Housed!

“Finding Home”

“Thank you Cornerstone for all your help! Not only for the help of shelter and housing but for life in general. Thank you and keep up the good work!”
– Lisa, maintained employment and found housing while sheltered at CCO.

Every single 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.

Often the path to housing is full of barriers and delays but we are grateful to our case management team who help everyone sheltered at CCO navigate the complexities of finding a safe place to live.

In 2016, 269 people who stayed in one of CCO’s shelters or was helped through our outreach program moved from homelessness to housing. It was a record-breaking year!


Thank you for joining us in celebrating this exciting success from 2016. In 2017, we hope you continue to be a part of the fabulous things happening in the lives of those experiencing homelessness. Please consider donating today!

 

Celebrate with Us : 2016 Annual Report

Take a moment to celebrate the successes of 2016 with us! We were overjoyed to see 269 shelter residents move from homelessness to housing, 48 people became employed while living at CCO, and over 200,000 plates of nutritious food were served to families and single adults experiencing homelessness. Over 300 people were helped with accessing birth certificates and essential identification, the CCO Free Store saw 2,920 visits for necessary clothing and household items, and over 22,500 bags of groceries went home with our food pantry patrons.


Thank you for joining us in celebrating a few of CCO’s wonderful successes from 2016. In 2017, we hope you continue to be a part of the fabulous things happening at in the lives of those experiencing homelessness. Please consider making a generous donation today!
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Don’t Give Up: Shirley’s Story!

Shirley Graduates!“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

Happy Veteran’s Day!

CJ Veteran's Day

Happy Veteran’s Day! CJ is a former CCO resident and U.S. Military Veteran. She moved from homelessness to housing two years ago. We rejoice with her that this year she can observe Veteran’s Day from her own home. Great job, CJ!

In recent years, U.S. Veteran homelessness has declined but their is still a lot of work to be done. At CCO, we believe that safe housing is a human right. Are you a veteran experiencing homelessness? If so, a federal housing program called HUD-VASH may help you. Click here to go to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs HUD-VASH website.

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!

Denise’s Story

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“In my storage unit, I was too cold to rest. I wanted a place to lay my head down and just sleep. I’d wrap up in ten blankets, just trying to get warm.”

Denise seems to have an endless abundance of joy. She is a very petite woman in her late 50’s with bright eyes and a wide, welcoming smile that goes well with her upbeat personality. Denise’s past was filled with a solid and consistent work history. For 30 years she was employed with Illinois Bell. She began in 1979 working part-time in the mailroom and was promoted 12 times, working her way up to full-time Engineering Clerk. After taking early retirement from Illinois Bell and giving the funds to her son to pay for his college education, Denise found work as a secretary with a moving company. Eight years later that business relocated to Florida. Denise found herself unemployed and alone. Too young for social security benefits but old enough to experience age discrimination when looking for work, she didn’t know where to turn for help.

Finding a job proved difficult and she eventually lost her apartment. Denise had an outdoor storage space that measured about 10 feet by 10 feet located in an outdoor lot on the south side of Chicago. The space held all the items from the apartment she had lost and with nowhere else to turn, she moved into it. Without any heat at all and only a few flashlights for light, Denise said she prayed, read her Bible, and cried a river in that storage unit. Keeping clean was a real challenge and when she tried to wash up in local public bathrooms she endured looks and comments from people who seemed to fear or despise her. Her former life was utterly lost.

For three years and throughout notoriously harsh Chicago winters, Denise stayed in her storage unit. To escape the cold, she would often ride the Chicago Public Transit system. “I was so tired of riding the buses. So tired… but when I rode the buses no one ever robbed me. An angel must have been sitting beside me.” Throughout these years Denise kept her difficult circumstances hidden from her son who lived out of state.

This sweet, hard-working woman had been forced so far out on the margins that she couldn’t find her way back. This past January, in the deadly cold, Denise arrived at Cornerstone. Three years of surviving alone would lead us to believe that Denise would find living with the 74 other women sheltered at Naomi House nearly impossible. Not so! Denise soon began to encourage homeless women younger than her, giving words of wisdom, and helping to defuse tense situations.

During her time at the shelter, Denise felt that God told her, “I’m giving you the rope but it’s up to you to grab ahold and pull yourself up.” And she did just that. During her stay at CCO Denise got security guard training, earned her PERC (Permanent Employment Registration Card) card, and got full-time work as a security guard. Of Naomi House staff Denise says, “They really supported me. The case managers got to know me and took time with me. I felt that they respected me.”

For the last 8 months Denise has been working full-time as a security officer for a domestic violence shelter that serves women with children. She enjoys her work immensely. The day Denise moved into her apartment she shouted, “Lord, You have been too good to me!” and then sat down and cried tears of gratitude. We rejoice with Denise!
Denise’s story reflects a trend of age-related employment discrimination. Regardless of her impeccable work history and experience Denise struggled to find a job. The turning point in Denise’s story is when she arrived at CCO and began to climb out of the day-to-day survival situation she had sunk into. We have been blessed by her stay and applaud the employer that saw what we see in Denise – a lovely, enthusiastic, hard-working woman who simply needed a job.

– Denise Hardy, as told to Beth Nicholls

If you are a donor then you helped to provide safe shelter, nutritious meals, and intensive case management services to Denise and other CCO residents like her. Please consider giving again financially today. If you have not made a donation to CCO consider giving a gift that will help someone move from homelessness to permanent housing. Thank you!

Denise

Happy Father’s Day!

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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!

Leland House Computer Lab!

Leland Computer Lab

“They’re here! They’re here!” was the loud proclamation of three school-age children who live at Leland House. The children at Leland House are now able to do their homework on the newly installed computers. They were so excited they could hardly contain themselves. “Wow! Two new Apple computers and a printer!”, was another students reply when he saw the new computers & printer. Leland House provides permanent, supportive housing to 20 school-age children and their parents. The children can now come home and access these computers after school. Every Tuesday we have 3 Moody Bible Institute student volunteers who come and help tutor the children. Up until this time, they had been trying to use our very old computers that were barely functioning and  sometimes didn’t work at all.

Thanks to the generosity of The Barnabas Project this miracle of new computers has now blessed our after school room. The staff, volunteers and especially the families with school-age children are very grateful to receive these generous gifts. The computer lab will benefit and enhance the Leland House program and all its residents.
Leland House is CCO’s permanent, supportive housing program. Leland House provides 18 families with safe apartments and intensive, on-site case management services. Staff have been praying, hoping, and wishing for new computers. Now the children are better equipped to achieve their education goals. Moms and dads at the Leland House program also use the computers to search for job and  housing opportunities. They can now register online, search for job training and employment opportunities, create and post resumes, and search the web for other opportunities.
Thank you Barnabas Project for your compassion and kindness you have shown to the families at Leland House!