Leland House, Forever a Part of our Life Story

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“As a student at Moody Bible Institute, I thought my mandatory volunteer work at the Leland House tutoring children would be a difficult burden. I was quickly proven wrong, firstly, because I immediately fell in love with the children, and secondly, because I met my wife there.

Tutoring the children became an immense joy for me. I had never worked with children in this manner before so I was a little lost at first. Fortunately, one year I was assigned a partner: my wife-to-be. The first week she came in I was mesmerized by the way she handled the kids with love and strictness all at once. I watched her as she made funny faces and played along with the children’s ridiculous games while maintaining order in a learning atmosphere. Needless to say, I fell in love with her as we worked side by side at the Leland house and together we fell in love with the kids.

Unfortunately, after our service time at Leland House was complete my wife was hit by a car right outside of our school. Her pelvis was shattered and she was in the hospital for some time. During this time she received countless cards and flowers from friends and family but none compared to one large envelope. The big yellow envelope held dozens of crayon-scrawled, hand-written letters and pictures from all our children at the Leland House. It was in that moment that we knew we had created lifelong friends and lasting memories with the children and families through our blessed time at the Leland House. My wife and I are now happily married with an 8-month-old baby girl living in Texas and the Leland House children and experience is forever a part of our life story.

Leland House has been a subsidized housing program for families in need for over 20 years. This year ownership of Leland House was transferred to an organization that is committed to continuing affordable housing for the families housed there. CCO made this decision so that employees and resources could be focused on our homeless shelter programs, which provide safe shelter, nutritious meals, and supportive services, to nearly 350 individuals and families each day. To make a financial donation to CCO click the Donate button at the top of the page. We want to say special thanks to Pegge, Carol, all the other staff, who faithfully served at Leland House. We also want to thank Barnabus Project and many other valuable organizations who worked alongside out families to make Leland House an outstanding place to live. Thank you!

Leland Computer Lab

Leland House Sold to Park Inc.

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After lengthy discussion and deliberation, the Cornerstone Community Outreach (CCO) Board of Directors has decided to hand over ownership of Leland House to Park Inc. CCO made this decision so that employees and resources could be focused on our homeless shelter programs, which provide safe shelter, nutritious meals, and supportive services, to nearly 350 individuals and families each day.

Park Inc. has a history of providing affordable housing. Their website states, “Park Inc. is a real estate investment firm that specializes in the acquisition and long-term ownership of residential properties and development management. Our portfolio includes both conventional and affordable housing.” For this reason, Park Inc. was chosen to continue housing families in affordable housing units at the Leland House location.

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!

Leland House

Leland House

Merry Christmas from Leland House!

Leland House is CCO’s Permanent Supportive Housing Program. Leland has full-time case managers that serve families living in the 18 apartment units. Each year staff and volunteers work tirelessly to put together a beautiful meal and gift giving at the Leland House Christmas Party.

Thank you!

Everybody Loves Stewart!

The Brown Family

Stewart with his mother, Denise and one of his three sisters.

“I was on the street, drug addicted, and up to no good,” Denise remembers. “And my son, Stewart, hunted for me until he found me. He got tears in his eyes. And he said, ‘Mama, you have to come home. We need you.'”

Denise shakes her head. “I told him I couldn’t come home. “I’m no good to you, Stewart. I’m no good to anyone.”

Stewart simply looked at her with tears running down his cheeks. “Mama,” he said. “We love you. We need you. All of us need you. You have to come home, Mama. You have to. We can work it out.” Something in his voice broke through the despair she felt about her life. And she went with him.

Since that day, Denise has moved away from drugs and the street, and has become a consistent, mature, and loving mother. In late February of 2003, Denise and her three children moved into the Sylvia Center, then a year later moved to our Leland House Permanent Housing Program.

Stewart has a specialness to him that only took us a few minutes to discover. He is developmentally challenged, yet has an amazing emotional maturity. He is also someone who lights up a room just by entering it.

People who haven’t met Stewart can’t stop smiling when they finally do; the phrase “Everybody love Stewart” is the only way to describe the effect he has on both staff and shelter guests.

One staffer recalls, “Stewart came over to me one June morning with something in his hands. He held out a gold and a bronze medal he had won running at the Special Olympics in Bloomington, Illinois.”

Though Stewart has an enlarged heart, preventing him from playing football, it doesn’t stop him from giving his best when he runs.

And that same energy shows up elsewhere. Stewart is bright, friendly, and outgoing. He wants first of all to know, “How are you feeling?” When he is not asking that, he’s got a sharp eye out for anyone lifting any heavy object. His first question as soon as he spots them, “Can I help?”

Stewart now has a part-time job. But in his off hours his favorite thing is to hangout with Chris Ramsey, Site Manager of CCO.

Chris and Stewart both love baseball, and when the Cubs began giving CCO the leftover vendor meals from Wrigley Field, it became their mutual mission to leap into the old ’94 Dodge Ram van and “go get those Cubbie dogs!” As they pull up to the shelter Stewart hangs out the window, “Hey, man, you want some hotdogs?” Stewart calls from the van. “These are from the Cubs game!”

Stewart’s mother, Denise, sums him up best. “I have medicine I take everyday. And sometimes I forget. But Stewart is always there, asking me how I’m doing, asking me if I remember today to take it.” He seems, she ponders, to think always of her needs.

Maybe that why we all love Stewart… because he’s so good at loving others.

– written by Chris and Sandy Ramsey, December 2004