C-U at Home Newsletter

Fall 2023

Mark your calendars for

One Winter Night 2024

One Winter Night, our annual fundraiser and awareness event, will be back for the twelfth consecutive year next February! Around two dozen people participated in the first One Winter Night in 2012, and since then hundreds of other have followed in their footsteps. We’ll be taking a look back at “OWN over the Years” at next year’s event, which will combine familiar elements from times past with exciting new activities.

The weekend will kick off Friday, February 2nd with the OWN Outdoor Challenge. As in times past, we’re challenging participants to raise funds and awareness for the work we do by spending a cold night outside. An evening program, hosted once again by WCIA TV personality Matthew White, will give participants the opportunity to meet some of our amazing staff, understand the root causes of homelessness, and learn more about our “Pathways to Progress” approach to bringing stability and hope to our clients.

On the evening of Saturday, February 3rd we will host an exciting new fundraising event: the OWN 2024 Auction! There will be plenty of fun and exciting items to bid on, and the proceeds will support our year-round mission of helping people find stability. The auction will be coordinated and conducted by well-known local benefit auctioneer Mike Namoff and the amazing team at Mega Events Auction.

“We are incredibly humbled and grateful for the community support for One Winter Night over the years,” says C-U at Home’s executive director, Melissa Courtwright. “It allows us to continue the important work we do every day.”

Work is already underway planning our first ever two-day One Winter Night weekend. Information on how to register for the Outdoor Challenge and attend the Auction Event will be up on our website soon. Both events will take place at The Venue CU in downtown Champaign. We’ve set a fundraising goal at $250,000 for the entire OWN 2024 weekend. Please spread the word and help us gain momentum as we move forward!

Progress along the path

We are drawing near to the end of our first full year of providing services to clients through our Pathways to Progress model, and it’s exciting to see how far we’ve come! We now have seven homes located throughout the community where individuals who have experienced homelessness are living, learning essential life skills, and making progress of their own toward their goal of wholeness and independence.

Austin’s Place women’s shelter in Champaign (top left) has served 21 residents since moving to its new home last December. AP is staffed round the clock, and clients build strong relationships with both staff and each other. There are beds for eight women, two in each room. Clients share living space and household chores, and they prepare their own meals (while also enjoying the blessing of occasional meals donated by generous local church and community groups). Many residents are employed or attending classes. This year, eight of the women in the program have been housed, either by completing the program and moving into their own apartment, or by making the step up into one of our four smaller advanced shelter residences.

Our new men’s residence in Urbana (bottom left) has been open for just a few months, since August. It has been an important step in providing a similar atmosphere for our male clients that the women enjoy at AP. The setup is the same: eight men share four rooms and a common kitchen, living, and dining room. Staff are present 24/7 to provide a stable and secure living environment. A total of 15 men have been in our program so far this year, and ten of them have moved on to their own apartments or progressed into one of our advanced shelter residences. Most are also employed or taking classes.

Clients in our program meet weekly with their assigned case managers to track progress toward goals, discuss challenges they might be facing, and receive guidance for moving forward. Staff also helps with life skills development, employment-seeking, and, when the time comes, assistance navigating the local housing voucher system and apartment possibilities.

Last month, we were excited to hold our first ever “Progress on the Path” celebration to recognize the achievements of current clients and bless two very special people who have recently graduated from our “Pathways” program and are housed and moving forward! Over two dozen staff, clients, and their supporters attended the event, which was held at Windsor Road Christian Church. “Walking with you is our whole mission,” case manager Cedar King said in his welcome the group. “There’s no better feeling than watching you succeed!”

Thanksgiving meal on tap

Our annual Thanksgiving tradition of providing a meal for the people we serve continues this week, as many staff and their families join together with clients at 1 pm this Thursday to share a feast of holiday favorites.

This year’s meals will be provided for each individual by Heartland Coca-Cola. Staff and volunteers will bring pies and additional fixings for the feast. Members of the Junior League of Champaign-Urbana are going to be decorating our community room for the festivities. Volunteer Amanda Gergen and her son have helped serve at our holiday dinners for several years. This year they’ve offered to bring a large helping of stuffing!

“We’re excited to be able to help again this year,” she says. “Love [your] restoration plans to end homelessness with a long term solution.”

We have a lot to be thankful for this year. Eighteen individuals have experienced success in our Pathways program to the point of being housed independently or in one of our advanced shelter residences. Our houses continue to be full or near capacity, and we receive almost daily inquiries from people interested in our program. We’ve achieved substantial stability with staffing and are blessed by the commitment and dedication of everyone in leadership and on our case management and life skills teams.

Be sure to check our Facebook page this week to hear from everyone on our staff (like Cedar below) as they express the things they are thankful for in the work that they do. And watch for Thanksgiving dinner photos as well!

“We’re surrounded by heroes and it’s wonderful to see and absorb the energy!  I’m thankful for our donors and sponsors who actually ‘Build the House!’ For staff who have all an incredible sense of mission and want to change the world. For our board who guides us with wisdom and generous support. For our Director, Melissa, who has vision and great leadership skills. Most of all, our residents, who are working hard towards making a significant change in their lives.  This is much harder than any of us realize.”  

Cedar King, Case Manager

“Case for Support” available soon

Why should you, your employer, your church — or anyone or any organization — support C-U at Home? We are preparing a new “Case for Support” publication that will answer that important question for you or any other person or organization you’d like to share it with!

“Case for Support” will provide a snapshot of C-U at Home’s mission, history, programs, and values. It will also include information about ways to partner with our ministry, along with an overview of FY 23 financials. If you’d like to receive pdf of the document when it is available, send an email to susan@cuathome.us. It will also be posted on our website.

A Message from Melissa

The important thing is to be willing to give as much as we can—that is what God accepts, and no one is asked to give what he has not got. Of course, I don’t mean that others should be relieved to an extent that leaves you in distress. It is a matter of share and share alike. At present your plenty should supply their need, and then at some future date their plenty may supply your need. ~~ 2 Corinthians 8:12-14

Generosity is such a powerful word. This time of year, many of us think about what it means to be generous. Generous with our time, our home, and generous with our resources. When I think about generosity, I picture a person who is open, welcoming, with a big smile on their face. They have rosy checks and a twinkle in their eyes. They never look depleted, worn out, or at their wits end. That tells me a couple of different things about the person I have in my mind. 

One is that they know their own limits. They know when to give and when to receive. They know when to say “Yes” and when to say “No.”  One of the huge pieces of not being depleted by generosity is that you know your boundaries with your time and resources. This means when you do say “Yes,” you can do so enthusiastically and with an open heart. 

This time of year, C-U at Home puts out a lot of requests, asking you to be generous.  You might see those requests in a Giving Tuesday post on social media. You might see them in a One Winter Night video. You might receive a year-end giving request in your mailbox.

This year, some of you have been blessed with an abundance of resources. But we also know that for others, resources have been limited this year. Let me encourage each of you to listen to the words of Paul: remember that no one is asked to give what they don’t have. But those who do have resources are asked to share their “plenty” with those in need.

Thank you to everyone who has been so generous with their time and resources this year.  Your support has helped C-U at Home operate seven homes throughout the community where residents are working hard and moving forward – all because of you! Your “plenty” has supplied their need.

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