I would like to wish you “Happy Holidays” from all of us here at Cornerstone Community Outreach (CCO). Without you we would not be able to offer safe shelter, nutritious meals and supportive services to our homeless shelter guests.
We are busy planning another outstanding holiday for the families and individuals that are sheltered with us. Every year we give each child new toys along with practical items, such as winter wear. Families and individuals enjoy several Christmas parties and special meals provided by many of you through your churches, offices and civic groups. With over 125 children sheltered with their families at CCO at any given time, the holidays need to be special.
This year, 2014, began with several months of the frigid polar vortex. We intentionally searched the lakefront, bridges, and viaducts, inviting anyone who was homeless to come in from the cold. During the worst of the weather we were housing 50 extra people on mats in the CCO Warming Center. We’re grateful to welcome people particularly when the weather is life threatening.
This spring CCO took part in the Living Shelter play by Lisa DiFranza that culminated in a production at the Chicago Cultural Center in downtown Chicago. The cast members consisted of myself, shelter guests and other CCO staff. The play was followed by a lively panel discussion with the audience, which included columnists from both the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune. It was a privilege to be able to discuss the issue of homelessness in such a public forum.
Team CCO expanded their fundraising efforts this year to include the Shamrock Shuffle, the Merrill Down and Dirty Obstacle Race, and the Chicago Half Marathon. For four years Team CCO has made the Bank of America Chicago Marathon a great fundraising and fitness success. Once again team members walked to raise hunger awareness and provide food for CCO residents at the Greater Chicago Food Depository Hunger Walk. Team CCO seeks to engage people in focusing on their health and fitness while being charitable toward homeless people. Stay tuned for other charitable fitness opportunities in 2015!
Our single men’s shelter program enjoyed an upgrade in the form of six new (refurbished) computers that will enable them to check their email, update resumes and do housing and employment web searches. Our computer room also doubles as a barbershop once a month. Barbers from Networks Barber College donate their time and skill to give the men haircuts. This simple act can be such a spirit lifter for the men. The barbershop time is always followed by a nice lunch and recently Walgreens was there at the same time to give flu shots. It was a wonderful, one-stop shop event!
In November we hosted our annual Veteran Recognition Dinner. What a wonderful privilege to honor our homeless vets! Our local Boy Scout troop 886 and Sea Scouts came to help serve our veterans and all our residents a delicious soul food dinner with fried chicken. Music was provided by Theresa McCall. What a sight to see–several hundred homeless people honoring our military veterans and eating a great meal, out of the reach of yet another polar vortex that has come upon us.
At this writing most of us are trying to figure out how to get through this latest polar vortex winter. We have already opened up our Warming Center to many grateful people. And we are happy to have them off the streets and out of the cold.
Thank you for walking with us this past year. Please donate today to support our shelter guests this winter, this holiday season, and throughout the year. Your gifts are 100% tax deductible. Your support touches the lives of homeless people, from infants to the elderly, families and individuals. It truly does make a difference!
Sandra J. Ramsey
Cornerstone Community Outreach
p.s. Look for our January mailing which will include CCO’s 2014 successful stats and a 2015 calendar as our gift to you.
Download a PDF Version of Directors Letter