Remembering Kenny

Oh Kenny: I’m sad to hear you left us last week. Rest in Peace, my friend. 
I had the honor of knowing Kenneth for almost 2 decades and I want to remember him for his wit, confidence and relentless generosity. Even in the difficult times, it was always good to see this resilient warrior limping through the streets of Uptown. He was a picture of survival and perseverance.

Life wasn't easy or simple for Kenneth. His struggle was real. He faced a lot of trauma in his life. He was a Vietnam veteran. He experienced homelessness. He rotated in and out of housing. He stayed with us at CCO, he slept at the airport, he slept on trains and he often found rest and support in Uptown Tent City. It seemed like everyone knew Kenny, and he found community and support in Uptown. 

What I'm about to say, I say out of love for a man I consider a friend. A few of us went through many hills and valleys with him and his obstacles were huge and daunting. He needed others and many of us rose up to assist…

Finding Hope in the Daily Battle.

People may think that working with hundreds of people experiencing homelessness every day is depressing: well, it isn’t! 

Don't get me wrong; the big picture is extremely depressing. The fact there’s so many people experiencing homelessness in Chicago is depressing. The fact that there’s so much bullying, vilification, and criminalization of those who are homeless is depressing. The fact that there’s not enough affordable or subsidized housing is depressing. When we look at the big picture and everything homelessness encompasses, the outlook is morally wrong, downright criminal and absolutely depressing. But when we look at and work during the day-to-day, that's where my spirit is lifted and hope is found!

When I am greeted at work every day by our security who were all once homeless and unemployed, and now they are housed and have jobs! At CCO, many of our staff were formerly homeless and unemployed and now they’re integral parts of our team. This reality gives me hope!
Every da…

Fighting the Good Fight!

A great deal of my time is spent with people experiencing homelessness! I also go into Cook County Jail and know many who are either incarcerated, on parole, probation or have rap sheets! Every day I work with people who struggle with mental illnesses, addictions, chronic health issues and so much more. I don’t find this a drag, I love what I do and consider it an honor and privilege!
During my past 20 years of attempting to live out what Jesus calls us to do, I have come to know some extraordinary people who have dedicated their lives in different ways to fight for those whom society has judged, criminalized, neglected and rejected. It's amazing to watch people courageously use their unique gifts and talents, to stand up and advocate for those who need help. I've learned, and continue to learn, so much by walking alongside some absolute gems who have persevered, are compassionate and continue to love despite all odds stacked against them.
For over 2 decades I’ve enjoyed network…

I'm Grieving!

I’m grieving....

In the past month, I know 4 people who passed away! Each of them spent lengthy times of homelessness in their lives! They stayed in shelters, huddled up in tents, slept in the park, lay on loading docks and rode the trains. They all experienced something no one plans or wants to go through. I was privileged enough to shelter them at CCO a few times and I was also honored to have played a little part in helping 3 of them move from homelessness into housing. 
All 4 were regulars in Uptown. They helped make it the diverse rich community it is. For various reasons, they all came into Cornerstone where they all blessed us, and like anyone, they caused us grief at times too. I'm glad to have known them, to call them friends and family and my life was enriched by each of them. 
Even though Uptown was their stomping ground and they all experienced homelessness in this neighborhood, they ran with their own unique set of friends and helped remind me of how lethal poverty and h…

An Eclectic Month

“The Gospel takes away our right forever, to discriminate between the deserving and the undeserving poor.” 

― Dorothy Day

these photos illustrate a little of our past month.....   Life, death, triumph, and pain: it's all part of our journey.....

Being Thankful When Life is Hard (Bridge Message)

Since I was here last time, life has been crazy up north in Uptown. There's been a vicious onslaught on those experiencing homelessness. You may have seen the images on the news of the armed police officers standing next to a line of tents. It was a haunting image of those in power and with prestige exercising their authority and dominance over some of the poorest and most vulnerable folk in Chicago. They were forced to pick up all their belongings and move 5 times until everyone was dispersed and scattered! The decisions (or lack of) by those in charge caused so much trauma to an already traumatized people. 

Life has been hard for so many of my homeless friends and for all of us who tried to stand with them and give them a voice! It’s hard when Uptown’s alderman, city workers, and the police exercise their power to push their agendas. It’s hard when they pretend to listen and care while secretly pulling the trigger. It’s hard knowing some leaders hide behind closed doors, scared t…

Uptown Trauma

Don't misunderstand this: what happened in Uptown this week was extremely traumatic for an already traumatized people!

For years, I've known people who have been living under the viaducts or in uninhabitable places in Uptown. During this past week, squads of city workers and police flooded the 2 viaducts and forced them away from their community. An overabundance of authority figures forced them to move 5 times! They were threatened with tickets and arrest! They were threatened that what little they possessed would be thrown away. The sight was intimidating because all the police stood there in their uniforms, with their weapons and bulletproof vests. This is traumatizing! This is incredibly traumatizing to people who have already faced copious amounts of trauma in their lives!

The folks who lived in Tent City found community together. They supported one another! They lifted each other up! They fed each other. They encouraged each other! As in any community, fights and power-pla…