C-U at Home “Pathways” Newsletter

December 2022

Pathways to Progress

Our “Pathways to Progress” mid-barrier shelter program for men and women is up and running!

During the week of December 12-16, four women made the transition to the new Austin’s Place location in a house in west Champaign. Ten men moved into the dormitory wing of C-U at Home’s former facilities at the corner of Market and Washington streets until a new, permanent men’s residence can be secured.

Residents in the new 24/7 shelter programs will receive wrap-around case management services, access to life-skills training, help obtaining employment and essential social services, and spiritual formation support.

Meals will be provided through the generosity of Daily Bread Soup Kitchen and donations from community members and church partners. Residents will eventually prepare their own meals to enjoy together.

“These spaces will allow our staff to serve clients in less congregate settings, which has long been our goal,” said Melissa Courtwright, our executive director. “We will be able to provide services to clients in a welcoming environment that fosters healing from trauma while gaining life skills and continuing case management services.”

It was a busy first week, as staff prepared rooms, helped clients settle in, and took them shopping, all while continuing to do intakes with prospective residents.

We also worked with Township staff now operating the emergency overnight shelters at our old location to make the transition as smooth as possible for all concerned.

“I’ve seen clients be thankful for the services we’ve provided for them,” said Marco Price, our director of client services. “I just feel like what we’re doing is the right thing for everyone. It’s all falling into place.”

There’s still time to make a year-end donation to help support our mission as we move forward with our “Pathways to Progress” initiative. To give, go to www.cuathome.us and click on the blue “Donate” button, or send checks to PO Box 8816, Champaign 61826. Thank you!

One Winter Night 2023

Winter is upon us, and that means . . . it’s time for our annual One Winter Night community awareness and fundraising event, coming up February 3-4! While we remain committed to the core elements that have made One Winter Night an iconic experience in our community, we are adding some fresh and creative options aimed at making the event more accessible, inclusive, and mindful of those we serve.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen the event expand from downtown Champaign to a few satellite locations at local churches and even to the University of Illinois campus!

This year, we hope to multiply this experience to at least a dozen more congregations throughout the area! We’re also developing more ways people of all ages can participate. For example . . .

  • We’re asking our many supporting churches to promote One Winter Night 2023 in the weeks leading up to the event and to consider hosting an “Understanding Homelessness” experience on the night of Friday, February 3.
  • We’re still offering the opportunity to raise funds on our behalf by sleeping outside in cars, tents, or makeshift shelters the night of Friday, February 3. Simulation activities will take place at The Venue CU downtown, our church partner satellite sites, and on the U of I campus.

We’re developing educational activities and materials that will help participants in OWN 2023 understand and empathize with the circumstances faced by the individuals we serve. These materials will be made available to partnering churches and those participating downtown at The Venue CU. More details on how you can participate in OWN 2023 will be available on our website in early January.

One last bit of very exciting news! On Saturday February 4, we will welcome the Grammy and GMA award-winning group Jars of Clay for a celebration concert to be held at The Venue CU in downtown Champaign! We invite you to join us that night in a spirit of thanks and praise. Tickets are available now!

2022 in Review

Even though it’s been a time of transition for us in these past few months, most of our year has centered around providing the essential services we’ve brought to individuals experiencing homelessness for the past several years. Here’s a rundown of services provided through mid-December:

  • 155 different men and 67 women stayed in our overnight shelters for a total of over 14,500 nights of stay
  • As many as 150 different individuals visited the Phoenix Daytime Center on any given month, accumulating over 8000 total engagements
  • Nearly 3000 showers were taken and just over 1400 loads of laundry were done
  • A dozen individuals resided in our Advanced Shelter houses
  • Transportation assistance was provided to 174 individuals
  • Over 80 people received outreach assistance
  • 17 individuals were employed in our C-U at Work partnership with Prosperity Gardens, where they logged nearly 5000 hours of work preparing, planting, and harvesting produce

In addition to these services provided, we expanded our case management staff by three new hires and provided case management services to over 150 clients. Over 50 of our shelter residents were housed during the course of the year, and our new men and women’s shelter program is approaching capacity.

Your generous support has made all of this possible, impacting hundreds and hundreds of lives in the process. We are truly appreciative of and blessed by your donations, prayers, and volunteer efforts throughout the year!

Christmas Blessings

‘Tis the Season, indeed! We’ve been so blessed by so many gestures of kindness and support during these challenging transition weeks in December, and we wanted to give you a glimpse into the festive fun that has come our way! We rejoice in the Lord for blessings big and small!

Consuming Fire Ministries provided goodie bags for shelter residents
Booker T. Washington students raised nearly $900 with “Coins for Kindness” drive
Unit 4 “Actions/Restore” students decorated at our offices
St. Joseph United Methodist Church dropped off gift bags for shelter residents
Quilting Group from St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Gifford donated their creations to Austin’s Place
Christmas Party for shelter residents courtesy of Dustin Brown and Jesus House

A Message from Melissa

I recently read, “Christmas is the only time of year in which one can sit in front of a dead tree and eat candy out of socks.”  I don’t know what family traditions you enjoy, but I know each of us have Christmas customs and memories.  Some of those remembrances may bring a smile, while others evoke a tear.  This year some of us will be celebrating with a room full of family, wonder and delight. Others of us are just hoping we make it through the holidays.  For most of us, there will be moments of joy and sorrow this Christmas season. Thankfully, Jesus is present with us in it all.  He is there with us through the joy, sorrow, and all the in between. Christmas is the time we celebrate that Christ has come into our midst and changed the way we experience all of life. This Christmas, as you go throughout your day, I pray that you will remember Jesus is God with us — and that is what we celebrate. From all of us at C-U at Home, Merry Christmas! 

Melissa Courtwright, Executive Director

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