Shelter Transforms Empty Space into Classrooms for Homeless Children

Student at the Sylvia Center

CHICAGO (September 16, 2020) — Cornerstone Community Outreach, a homeless ministry connected with Jesus People USA Covenant Church (JPUSA), received prominent media attention recently for transforming rooms at one of their shelters so children could take classes remotely.

The Sylvia Center was featured in a recent Chicago Tribune story as well as on a local CBS station newscast. All Chicago Public School classes meet remotely due to COVID-19.

“COVID-19 just changed the whole world,” one fifth-grader told the CBS station.

About 20 children, ranging in age between elementary and high school, currently live at the shelter, according to the staff. Children live in a single room together with their family, which can make studying difficult.

Staff decided to transform several spaces into classrooms so students could attend class and take a break from the rooms where they live.

Each classroom has desks and school supplies. Children receive a backpack and headphones to use while in class. All items have been donated, and volunteers help tutor the students and help them stay on task.

JPUSA started Cornerstone, which then became its own independent nonprofit. A majority of the ministry’s leaders and many of its volunteers are JPUSA members.

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Stan Friedman is the news and online editor for the Covenant Companion and is grateful for the opportunity to serve in a job that combines his newspaper and pastoral ministry experience. He has been to 15 Bruce Springsteen concerts in four cities and listened to “Thunder Road” an average of at least once a day for 41 years.

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