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

Team CCO at the Shuffle Expo!

Team CCO -Andrew

Check out the Team CCO booth at the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K Expo! If you’re headed to the Expo don’t forget to stop by our booth and learn more about how Team CCO is helping to alleviate hunger and homelessness in Chicago!

The Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8k is this Sunday. It’s not too late to make a financial donation. Visit CrowdRise to choose a Team CCO runner and make a donation that will help alleviate homelessness and hunger in Chicago. Thank you!

Special thanks to nine3nine Creative for the awesome design and setup!

Hunger & Food Assistance

CCO Food Pantry

In the 1960’s John F. Kennedy brought the issue of hunger and poverty to the forefront of American politics. He did so by reestablishing the Food Stamp Program that had begun several decades before. This government subsidized program has gone through several changes since its inception. In 2008, the Food Stamp Program became known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This program has assisted hungry families and individuals throughout America to purchase nutritious foods from participating stores. Food assistance is offered to people at or below the poverty line.

In recent years these vital programs have been significantly reduced. In 2013, the federal government reduced the SNAP program by 5%. This may seem like a small reduction, but studies conducted by Feed America and the Greater Chicago Food Depository (GCFD) reflect a significant number of families and individuals who visit food pantries in order to pay for necessities, such as, medication, transportation, school, and utilities. We have found this to be true among our pantry attendees at CCO.

Food assistance for many people is a homeless prevention program. Meaning that a growing number of folks need consistent on-going food assistance in order to pay rent or cover the very basics of life. CCO’s food pantry program is one of our longest running services. We are grateful to be a positive help to our neighbors in need. Our weekly pantry is filled with nutritious foods, including fresh produce, from the Greater Chicago Food Depository. The pantry is entirely staffed by faithful, hard working volunteers, some of attended the pantry in past years.

The food items and work force are provided without charge but we do have utility and security expenses. Consider donating today! Be a part of the good things that are happening every day at CCO!

Thank you!

CeaseFire, Critical Violence Prevention


Treating the contagion of violence. — CeaseFire

CeaseFire, is a global organization that works to reduce or interrupt violence, focus on high-risk areas, and create change through building relationships. CCO has welcomed Cure Violence staff into our shelter. They’ve conducted workshops and talked individually with our shelter guests about violence prevention. Their work has had an outstanding and unparalleled impact on our shelter guests and our surrounding neighborhood.

Recently, we found out that Illinois funding for CeaseFire programs has stopped. This is a devastating blow to an organization who’s sole purpose is community safety, improvement, and support. Organizations like CeaseFire create healthier communities and safer neighborhoods through violence prevention.

CeaseFire began their first program in the West Garfield Park neighborhood of Chicago. They witnessed at 67% drop in gun violence and deaths. The program was then duplicated in four more neighborhoods. In those neighborhoods gun violence was reduced by 42%. CeaseFire has been active in 18 Chicago neighborhoods. The loss of their funding will cripple peace keeping efforts in our neighborhoods and increase gun violence and death.

To learn more about CeaseFire go to their website by clicking here.

Find out more about their award-winning documentary, The Interrupters.

Gary Slutkin, M.D., Professor of Epidemiology and International Health at the University of Illinois/ Chicago School of Public Health, is the original founder of CeaseFire. To learn more about his approach to violence watch his TedTalk, “Can Violence Be Cured?”

View CeaseFire testimonials here.


CCO Birthdays!

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Over 140 children are sheltered at CCO with their families on any given day. Birthdays should be special for every child. A few thoughtful volunteers purchase or bake a birthday cake and bring it to the shelter when it’s time to celebrate someones special day. Volunteers wrap new presents from the donations we receive. It’s great to think that kids sheltered at CCO will look back at their time of homelessness and also have these special memories.

Thank you to all our volunteers that make a difference at CCO!

Snow Blower Anyone?

CCOBlizzard15 CCOBlizzard15_2
The Chicago Blizzard of 2015 has turned out to be the fifth biggest snow storm in Chicago history. Over 19 inches of snow fell on our fair city. On Monday everyone across began to dig themselves out of their respective homes. CCO was no exception. Armed with a couple shovels, a few good men dug out our sidewalks and alleyway so families and singles could get to the CCO dining room, CTA station, and even excavated a few cars. Following hours of digging we decided it would be an excellent idea to ask our wonderful donors for $$ toward a snow blower! If you’re interested in donating to make a snow blower purchase please email Beth at We’ll make sure your donation is specified for this purpose.


Flowers Brighten the CCO Dining Room


Flowers brighten the CCO dining room and bring a touch of life and encouragement for our shelter guests, staff and volunteers. On average over 600 people dine at CCO on any given day. We are grateful for the splash of color that brings a bit of beauty to the families and individuals sheltered with us.

The flowers and plants are brought to CCO through the efforts of the Resource Center. This wonderful organization is run almost entirely by volunteers. Each week they gather food and flowers from grocery stores like Whole Foods and bring the goods to shelters and food pantries across the city. Thank you, Resource Center!

Naomi House Renovation!

Thank you Tourism Toronto for beautifully renovating the bathroom for the single women sheltered at CCO’s Naomi House program! You’re work is an improvement and encouragement. What a transformation! Thank you!

Families Celebrate the Holiday at CCO!

Crystal post
On Tuesday morning, December 23, CCO staff and volunteers handed out gifts to all the families who stay with us at Cornerstone. Presents are also given to those families who were once homeless and are now housed, along with some parents and grandparents who can’t afford to buy their “little ones” anything this Christmas.
The tireless workers ensure that every child, along with every parent, receives gifts! It is truly remarkable! It involves many donors, volunteers and staff dedicating an enormous amount of love, time, effort and money for our families who are experiencing homelessness. Every year I marvel how it all comes together and how hundreds of women, men and children are blessed! I marvel at how those who often feel unloved and rejected, feel loved and accepted during this season!
Each family receives a variety of wrapped gifts that are “age-appropriate”. We were able to give away presents like basketballs, dolls, games, lego sets, art kits, books and countless other toys! The children all receive a few toys each, while the parents and teenagers are often blessed with gift cards and electronics.
This year was no different; everyone was stunned, was incredibly grateful and had a wonderful time. They kept saying “thank you”, over and over again!
Families who are experiencing homelessness, are often ignored and forgotten during the Christmas season. They are in a place they’d rather not be; they’d rather spend Christmas in their own apartment! They often do not expect anything, and are often racked with the guilt of having to live with their kids in a homeless shelter. Many are often wondering how they’ll even be able to purchase anything for their “shorties”.
Unfortunately, most families are expecting to be ignored and forgotten again. Yet, I’m happy to say, it is a very different reality here in Cornerstone…..
This season is remarkable. Not only are they blessed with all these gifts, but over several weeks, Churches and other organizations come to CCO and cook them amazing meals, take them to restaurants and volunteer much time and effort. These families certainly know they have been remembered. These families certainly know they have not been ignored and forgotten!
So, it is always a joy to be part of this and to surprise them. It is always a joy to see the unexpected delight and happiness form on their faces, knowing they have been remembered and loved!
….and isn’t this what Christmas is all about?
….isn’t this why the Christ-child came into the world, bringing a new Kingdom of Love and Hope? A Kingdom that elevates, saves and surprises those who are homeless, sick, marginalized, rejected, ignored and abandoned.
Surprising people in our dark world, with unexpected rays of love and light!
Surprising people, who think all is lost, with new gifts and new Hope!
Surprising people, who’ve been cast aside by this world, by remembering them and making sure they know they are loved and not forgotten!