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!

48 Employed!

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Employed_2016_Annual_Report

48 Employed!

Improving Through Employment

“Never ever give up. No matter how bad things are. I came to Chicago and I didn’t know anybody. I found shelter at Cornerstone and never gave up. If you’re homeless right now, don’t give up!”
– Katie, obtained employment and housing while sheltered at CCO

In 2016, 48 CCO shelter guests found employment! The effort and determination needed to secure a job while homeless cannot be overstated. We are proud of each and every person who obtained employment. CCO was privileged to help with training, transportation, and uniform costs for many who were in the process of job training or who found work.

Some outstanding shelter guests were given employment at CCO. Of CCO’s 50 employees, 30 have experienced homelessness and have moved from homelessness to housing through one of CCO’s shelter programs. We are proud to say 60% of CCO’s employees have ‘lived experience’ and can bring these insights, compassion, and understanding to their work. They fill critical roles such as case managers, security guards, maintenance staff, chefs, janitorial workers, programs assistants, and evening staff.


We celebrate each of our shelter guests who obtained employment in 2016. Thank you for joining us in celebration. 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!
CCO 2016 Annual Report Front

The Gift of Stewart Brown

(http://vimeo.com/ccolife/thegiftofstewartbrown)

A CCO Original Video by the wonderful folks at nine3nine Creative. Click to watch!

Over a decade ago, Stewart Brown, his mother, and his little sisters were homeless and needed shelter. They came to CCO, and from that moment on, Stewart has been a part of our lives, giving his all, for all of us, using his endless energy and excitement within CCO and well beyond.

Stewart is a giver. No matter the weather, the time, the location, the effort required, the distance, no matter who’s in need, no matter the sacrifice, Stewart is a giver.

Stewart gives a smile, gives a greeting, gives acceptance, gives a hug, gives food, gives a fist bump, gives a hand, gives a rebuke, gives encouragement, gives joy, gives thanks.

Stewart blesses us. He is a giver and he is our gift, Cornerstone’s gift, Uptown’s gift, and Chicago’s gift!

Thank you, Stewart, for being you!

  • Special thanks go to Nathan Cameron, Ian Harris!

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

Surgery, Recovery, and the Long Road Home

Surgery, Recovery, and the Long Road Home

“When I arrived at Cornerstone Community Outreach (CCO) I was recovering from hip replacement surgery on both hips and I was legally blind in my left eye due to a cataract. Health problems, extensive surgeries, and long recovery times caused me to lose my job and become homeless.

I had my left cataract removed while I was at CCO and I recovered there, too. The doctor told me that if I had waited any longer I may not have gotten my vision back. My vision was so good after the surgery I felt like I could see through walls! I was finally on the road to health and healing.

My CCO case managers, Andre and Jeremy, were there every time I needed their help with important appointments, transportation, laundry cards, medical referrals, and housing lists. I put my name on every piece of paper and data-base I could get ahold of. I knew finding housing was going to be a long road, and it was, but God really saw me through. I believe He never leaves us or forsakes us.

That long road of homelessness ended the day I moved into Friendly Towers, an independent affordable living program for senior citizens. It is a safe, quiet building near Lake Michigan. It’s my home, I couldn’t think of a better place to live.

After being in my apartment for two years, I was asked to be a member of the Cornerstone Community Outreach Board of Directors. I felt truly honored. I appreciate the opportunity to give back to CCO through serving as a board member. I believe my homeless experience gives me a deeper understanding of what CCO residents are going through.

People call me a success story but I’m a work in progress. Even in the times I didn’t ask for help, God was there helping me through.”

Dawson Key, 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!

Celebrating Success!

Melinda - Naomi House

Homelessness is traumatic, complex, and a unique experience for each individual. Triumphs are often an uphill battle which makes each person’s victory all the more cause for celebration.

Take a moment and read the CCO success statistics from 2015 and rejoice with us as we recognize each victory. Click on the letters below or visit the CCO statistics page.

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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