Homeless agency sets fundraiser for 'desperate' need
CHAMPAIGN — C-U at Home, the organization working to provide housing for Champaign-Urbana's most vulnerable homeless people, will hold a fundraiser next month.
And the need for participation is "desperate," C-U at Home's founder and leader, Melany Jackson says.
C-U at Home won't receive the funding assistance it requested from United Way of Champaign County that would have helped cover its expenses for the next two years, she said.
"It was very disappointing," she added.
United Way President Lyn Jones said her organization looks for measurable outcomes, and C-U at Home is a new agency. Not only that, she said, it's still in the process of securing its tax-exempt organization status.
Jones said United Way also looks at how many people are helped by its funding assistance, and C-U at Home helps one person at a time rather than many.
Jackson said she hopes to raise $20,000 through C-U at Home's next fundraiser, called One Summer Day, set for 9-11 a.m. June 30.
She plans to share half of what is raised with six other non-profit agencies in the community: the Daily Bread Soup Kitchen, the Canteen Run, TIMES Center, Restoration Urban Ministries, Austin's Place and St. Jude Catholic Worker House.
The name of the event is a counterpart to C-U at Home's winter fundraiser, One Winter Night, in which public officials and others slept in boxes downtown to raise awareness about homelessness and raise money for the organization.
The summer event will be a fundraising walk at Champaign's Hessel Park, and participants can walk individually or in teams.
The first 100 people to sign up will be given grocery carts to push as they walk, Jackson said. Others to sign up are asked to bring strollers or wagons to or wear empty backpacks.
Walkers will wear pedometers and will collect pledges in advance, raising money based on the number of steps they take.
The public will be asked to donate items to place in the grocery carts, such as socks, razors, deodorant, fresh produce and laundry detergent, to shared by the seven benefiting agencies.
C-U at Home has placed three homeless residents in homes to date, but one is back on the streets.
The first, Vern Chounard, was the subject of much publicity when he moved into a donated rental house. But he found it tough giving up alcohol and street life. He eventually entered an alcohol-treatment program in Springfield and left after two-and-a-half weeks, and is now back on the streets, Jackson said.
Another formerly homeless resident is living in the same house and doing well, and the organization has placed a third homeless man in another rental house that has been donated rent-free for a year, she said.
Jackson also says her group hasn't given up on Chounard and would give him another chance.
"We're not finished yet, by any means," she adds.
Money raised by her organization helps pay for rent and utilities at one house and utilities at another and other expenses.
For more information about One Summer Day and to register online, see http://www.cuathome.us