Congratulations Graduates!

On June 10th, Amanda Learmond, resource manager for Cornerstone Community Outreach (CCO), had a conflict with three of her former clients. It wasn’t the usual type of resolution she is called upon to deal with on a daily basis at the shelter. No, she had three invitations to graduations from former clients of CCO. 

The three families had been shelter guests at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and all three families had been successfully housed. During their time at CCO, Amanda was each family’s case manager, working closely with them to overcome the barriers keeping them in homelessness. During that time they all formed a deep bond that continued after the families transitioned to permanent housing. Amanda worked closely with these families not just during their stay at CCO but in their new homes, visiting them and offering continued support.

“Even though I don’t have family in Chicago, with these families I feel like I have family in Chicago,” Amanda says. “I feel so honored that I was invited into these families’ lives. These parents and guardians inspire me in the way that they continuously create opportunities for their children in spite of their challenges.”

But with such a close connection with each family it was a hard decision to choose which graduation to attend. Jocelin was graduating from Kindergarten, Zion was graduating from 8th grade and Luis was graduating from high school. Each of these children had overcome great obstacles to finish their grades all while coming out of homelessness during a pandemic.

In the end Amanda was able to check in on all of them. “Even though I wasn’t able to watch each of them walk the stage, I was able to be with them to celebrate their accomplishment. My biggest dream is to watch Jocelin and Zion graduate from high school and Luis to graduate from college. I can’t wait to cheer for them then.”

Luis will attend college at National Louis University on a full scholarship to study business and then go on to complete a degree in civil engineering.

Amanda’s story is such a wonderful example of how when a family comes to CCO they become a part of the Cornerstone family and how we at Cornerstone become a part of theirs. Amanda said she is very grateful to everyone who contributed to make this experience possible, and encourages everyone to consider donating to Cornerstone to make more possibilities happen.

Click here to donate to keep these life changing experiences happening!

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!

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