Looking Back, Moving Forward!

Upon reflecting on 2012, I cannot help but ponder on 2 overarching themes that swamped our year at Cornerstone Community Outreach....

In my humble opinion, 2012 was a year of many great contrasts......
It was a year filled with much heartbreak and joyful celebration.
There were moments of depressing reality and wonderful optimism.
While people challenged us with decisive opposition, other people supported us with undeniable loyalty.
There were moments of fearful anxiety, yet unmistakeable success remained constant throughout.
It was a year filled with a scattering of "haters", yet no one can deny the LOVE that flowed out of the street I like to now call Hope Alley

Yet despite the air of negativity;
our mission, our purpose and our Love for the "least of these" hasn't died,
HOPE lives
and we'll keep pushing on stronger than ever!

To quote the all important phrase from the marvelous short film: The Butterfly Circus:
“The greater the struggle, the more glorious the triumph."
  • Sadly, in 2012, we mourned the deaths of 22 people. This number 22 includes men and women. This number includes people who were staying with us at CCO at the time of their deaths, but it also includes those who were living outside and also those who were once homeless, but died while being successfully housed. 22 is quite a high number and emphasizes the deep and dark reality that people struggling with homelessness are very vulnerable and have a shortened life expectancy. 22 emphasizes the reality of how we (as case-managers) become grief counselors and a network of support to a group who have "next to nothing". 22 also emphasizes the vital need to live out and love those who are hungry, thirsty, naked, imprisoned, sick and homeless; just as the parable of the "Sheep and the Goats" begs us to!
  • Thankfully, in 2012, we celebrated a lot of successful stories of so many people. Though death struck us very hard at frequent corners, and though we endured the fiery darts of opposing forces, success stories and positive momentum never ceased to abandon "Hope Alley". It is difficult to speak of exact numbers, but I can testify that these numbers are plenty, and each and every success story could and should be viewed as miraculous or maybe even resurrections. The beauty of all this is how LOVE shone it's light despite all the darkness, and how the seemingly "hopeless" discovered HOPE when they were told there was none. Homeless women, men and children defied the odds in Uptown and have helped change Clifton Avenue from it's past notorious name "Blood Alley" to a more realistic "Hope Alley".
...and this is some of the HOPE and the MIRACLES we have been privileged to witness....
  • we helped over 100 people get their State IDs....
  • we helped 274 people get their birth certificates....
  • we helped provide hundreds of people with "1 Day" transit cards to get to their appointments....
  • we helped provide over a hundred "7 Day" transit cards for people who got employed, but needed help to get to and from work until they got their first paycheck....
  • we helped many people overcome their obstacles and assisted them with a variety of other needs; this includes helping many people get their appropriate benefits, social security cards and medications, it also includes helping many people get food, furniture and other household items for their new apartments, and this also includes helping many people get the right clothing, blankets and mats for the ever-changing Chicago weather....
  • and finally, and very importantly, we helped a large number of homeless men, women and families successfully move into their own apartments. They weren't just residents from Cornerstone; they also lived under viaducts, slept on loading docks and rode the L-Train all night long. We played a pivotal role in helping these people make the right connections at the right time. Though, at times the struggle was difficult and the journey was long, every single one of these successful moves is a cause for great celebration.
Though 2012 had many moments of extreme and utter difficulty, yet I believe overall, the year had far more moments of triumph;
“The greater the struggle, the more glorious the triumph."
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