Melany Jackson on starting C-U at Home


2011 – C-U at Home founded by Melany Jackson
2012 – First annual One Winter Night event
2014 – Phoenix Daytime Drop-In Center opens
2018 – C-U Men’s Winter Shelter opens
2019 – C-U Men’s Shelter becomes year-round
2020 – Austin’s Place Women’s shelter joins C-U at Home
2021 – Dedicated case management for residents added and “Pathways to Progress” shelter programs initiated

Our story starts with one woman’s determination to serve Jesus by helping some of our most vulnerable neighbors. In 2011, fueled by a passion and commitment to serving the homeless that stemmed from a history of helping those in need, Melany Jackson founded C-U at Home.

Beginning with just one transitional house, Melany began to find tangible ways to start showing the love of God to people in need. At the time, there were existing shelters in Champaign-Urbana but no day center, so Melany identified that gap and worked to fill it. She put together what became an annual fundraising and community awareness event known as One Winter Night, and soon she was able to raise enough money and support from the community to open the Phoenix Daytime Drop-In Center.

Two years later, the largest shelter in the twin cities closed due to loss of funding, so C-U at Home once again identified a gap in services and worked to fill it. Partnering with churches and and gathering funding from the community, C-U at Home was able to participate in setting up a temporary emergency men’s shelter and eventually move into a building large enough to house permanent year-round men’s and women’s shelters, still currently in operation.

Today C-U at Home continues to carry out Melany’s legacy of serving Jesus by helping others. Alongside other agencies, we identify the best ways to serve the evolving needs of our homeless neighbors. For example, we recognized our clients’ need for increased support and empowerment, so we applied for a grant from the Champaign County Mental Health board, which allowed us to hire more case managers to do just that.

Over the years, the ways in which we carry out our mission have evolved, but our commitment to our core values has remained constant, as has the source of that commitment. Every day, by the grace and strength of God, we journey beside our homeless neighbors on their pathways to progress.

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