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!


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!

*From SantaProgram.com

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!

Merrell Down & Dirty Obstacle Race


This weekend five members of Team CCO will be testing their endurance at the Merrell Down & Dirty Obstacle Race. For a glimpse at what the team is willing to withstand to raise money and awareness for CCO and our homeless shelter guests, watch this YouTube video. The Heavy Hoist, Monster Climb, Mud Pit, Terrible Tires, Rock Wall, and Sand Bag Haul, are just a few of the 20+ obstacles awaiting the team on Sunday.

Help these guys reach their goal! The team set a fundraising goal of $3,000. Help them reach their goal by donating toward their race. Thank you!

“I Give Back”

Northwestern U
This Saturday, May 16th Cornerstone had the pleasure of participating in Northwestern University’s Day of Service. Their slogan for the day was “I give back” and that is exactly what they did. This group of 22 students paid no heed to the oppressive humidity or warm temperatures as they gave their all at sorting mounds of clothing donations.
Five flights of stairs to the Free Store? No problem. In two and a half hours this group sorted, labeled and transported 103 boxes and bags of clothing, shoes and accessories, filled 3 bins for clothing recycling, and effectively blew one Volunteer Coordinator’s expectations out of the water. These rockstars of service accomplished in just a few short hours what would have taken staff members weeks to accomplish on their own. Thank you Northwestern University for choosing to serve at Cornerstone Community Outreach with such an exceptional team of volunteers!
– Sarah Wright,
Cornerstone Volunteer Coordinator

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!