Congratulations Carla!

From the CCO Archive: Carla’s story was originally published in September of 2013.

“The night before I came to CCO, I slept out on a park bench. I said I would never stay in a shelter. And what did God do? He put me right in a shelter and blessed me there.

 I thought people in a shelter had to sleep on the floor. I was afraid that people would steal my stuff and that it would be dirty. I thought I would have to leave in the early morning and stay out all day. Naomi House has been totally different. I have a case manager, three meals a day, I didn’t have to sleep on the floor or leave during the day. It isn’t dirty. I’ve improved mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally.”

“Recently, I got a housing call and I was told, ‘It’s a go! Start packing!’ I have a place and I’m so excited about my little apartment! It’s perfect for me. And it makes me think about how good God is!”

-Carla, as told to Beth Nicholls

It would be difficult to talk to Carla and miss her determination and gratitude. After months of hard work, Carla turned the key to her own apartment. She looks back on her experience at the Naomi Shelter for Women as a stepping stone to stable housing. It has been a joy to work alongside her! Congratulations Carla!


Carla came to Naomi Shelter for Women from a park bench. Many shelter guests are welcomed into CCO after sleeping in doorways, vehicles, city buses, trains, and other places not intended for human habitation. In 2021, 30% of shelter guests entering the Naomi Men or Women’s Shelter Programs were “sleeping rough” the night before. Sleeping outside diminishes the physical and mental health of people experiencing homelessness. It makes them vulnerable to sleep deprivation, hunger, and violence.

Please stand with Cornerstone by helping to provide safe shelter space and permanent housing for Chicagoans experiencing poverty and homelessness. Your donation will ensure that beds, meals, and wrap-around services that available to someone sleeping on the street tonight. Click here to donate today!

585 Found Shelter in 2021

CCO is grateful to provide safe shelter, nutritious meals, and supportive services to Chicagoans experiencing homelessness. With your help, Cornerstone welcomes families and single adults who were previously sleeping on the train, on a relative’s couch, in a car, in substandard or overcrowded conditions. People come to CCO from a variety of difficult situations. They all have one thing in common, a need for shelter and help finding housing. 

CCO accepts families of all descriptions. Dads with children, moms with children, grandparents with grandchildren, three-generational families, parents with special needs adult children, and families with service animals have all found safe shelter. Single adults experiencing homelessness need safe shelter too. At Cornerstone, single men and women can find support and a sense of community that reduces the isolation often associated with homelessness. CCO shelter guests receive critical, personalized assistance from case managers who access supportive services and permanent housing. 

CCO has kept its doors open throughout the COVID pandemic providing safe shelter and essential services. The staff has worked tirelessly to make sure the shelter facilities and all policies maximize safety for shelter guests. Services to CCO’s neighbors in need have continued, too.

Cornerstone shelter guests rely on your valuable support. Please consider donating today so Cornerstone can continue to welcome those experiencing homelessness tomorrow.

Larry Hope

CCO would like to extend a huge Thank You to the friends and family of Larry Hope. They have made a $1,000 donation to provide a meal to CCO shelter guests catered by Urban Tables. In addition to that they have donated $2,000 to replace the damaged CCO stove. These monetary donations were given on Larry’s birthday, February 12. These gifts are intended to highlight Larry’s life story, a story of love and true transformation. 

The following are the words of Heather Yutzy, Larry’s close friend for the last 30 years. 

“The meals and the money for the stove that we are giving to Cornerstone is done in honor of Larry Hope. Larry was a man who lived and worked in Uptown for many decades. 

I met Larry 30 years ago when he was volunteering at the Monday night meal for the neighborhood at Uptown Baptist Church. Larry and I served meals, cooked, and washed dishes side-by-side for many months before I realized he was homeless. At that time, he was living on the streets and largely staying in U-Haul trailers that were parked on a lot in Uptown. 

Larry was bright, articulate, funny, and curious. He was always learning and asking great questions. He began going to church and was welcomed by the congregation. He was deeply loved. In the late 80s, I saw Larry’s life being transformed by the love of God. Real change happened in his life but things didn’t change quickly.

Larry obtained employment at the Salvation Army Tom Seay Center. He poured his loving care for others into the meals he prepared there. He obtained his GED, and later in life, excelled in college courses. Through his faith, Larry overcame addiction and eventually began to work full-time caring for those on the streets of Uptown. His transformation reflected his faith and he brought his experiences to the streets to help others with physical and spiritual needs. 

Eventually, Larry met and began courting a woman in San Francisco. They married and settled there. Larry spent the final years of his life bringing his message of hope to the streets of San Francisco.

When Larry died, his family and friends were utterly devastated. His life was an example of radical change. He had blessed so many. The donation is in honor of Larry’s story and his journey of faith in Jesus. I truly hope it encourages and blesses others.”

2021 Christmas Photo Album!

Never get tired of doing little things for others.
Sometimes, those little things occupy the biggest part of their hearts.”
– Unknown

We hope you enjoyed looking back at the holiday season at Cornerstone! Your generous support, and financial donations, helped to create a holiday that the children and adults at CCO will fondly recall for years to come.

It’s a joy to highlight Christmas because it’s a season of gifts, food, and fun for our shelter guests. However, Cornerstone keeps its doors open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, welcoming those in need of safety, warmth, and shelter. The important work doesn’t stop! It continues well after the Christmas trees are packed away and put in storage.

Please consider making an ongoing donation that will allow CCO to continue to meet the needs of families experiencing homelessness, whether it’s winter, spring, summer, or fall. Your support is needed and genuinely appreciated!

Thank You!

On behalf of Cornerstone, we thank you for making this Holiday Season truly outstanding for all our shelter guests. We want to thank everyone who purchased gifts for the children, parents, and single adults at CCO. We’re deeply grateful to everyone who gave financially. Special thanks to the tireless elves in Santa’s workshop who wrapped Christmas gifts. A beautiful Christmas at CCO has been possible through your care and support!

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Letter From the Executive Director

Dear Friends:

Greetings from Cornerstone Community Outreach (CCO)!  We find ourselves at the end of another adventurous year and we are so grateful you have been a part of it! We have had continued success in housing our shelter participants, thanks to some new housing initiatives offered by the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services and All Chicago.  Two stories come to mind – first, a senior Vietnam vet who has been homeless for over 40 years now holds keys to his own apartment!  Even at CCO, he remained homeless for several years, but thanks to our faithful and persistent staff, he stabilized enough to receive permanent housing.  A woman lived on a park bench for months.  She wouldn’t even come inside to our women’s program.  CCO staff repeatedly engaged her in conversation, eventually earning her trust.  From there, small steps followed by bigger movement and finally an apartment of her own!  On top of that, staff worked to help her reunite with her daughters whom she had not seen in a few years, who had been looking for her!  

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Giving Tuesday is Here!

It’s Giving Tuesday! Join CCO for a day of giving! Giving Tuesday follows Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday. It’s a global event that’s intended to highlight ways to get involved and give to charitable organizations. Please join us in supporting CCO’s mission to “address homelessness, provide shelter, accept people, and help them find a home.”

Here are a few ways you can give…

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500 Consecutive Days: An Exceptional Run for Shelter!

Most people would never consider running 500 days straight through snow, heat, rain, and a global pandemic but Tim Necas is not most people. Tim’s desire to break a former running streak of 35 days in a row gradually turned into a personal mission to run 500 consecutive days. He did it while raising funds for those experiencing homelessness at CCO.

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