Our friends at “New Life for Old Bags” are at it again, supporting Cornerstone Community Outreach (CCO — our homeless shelter) with one of the most brilliant “repurposing” projects we’ve even seen. They take old plastic shopping bags and weave them into beautiful — yes, really — floor mats. A year back New Life for Old Bags visited CCO; they handed out these mats to our homeless men and women, mats that in the event such folk were caught outdoors would probably come in very handy and are amazingly light to carry.
Saturday, February 2 2013, NLfOB will be having a third anniversary party and celebrating this way:
[From a New Life for Old Bags email]
FEBRUARY 1 IS HERE! Happy 3rd Anniversary New Life for Old Bags.
Hope that YOU will come and celebrate with us tomorrow, Sat, 2/2. We will be having a HUGE work day, great live music, LOTS of wonderful food, TONS of door prizes, a photographer who will take your pic in front of a cool backdrop, print it immediately, and give 50% to CCO.
Just a reminder that the party is at United in Faith (turquoise painted one story building) at 6525 w Irving Park Rd in Chicago. You can park behind the church or in the lot between the church and the Jolly Inn. If all of the parking fills, there is also street parking with a little hike.
The event is FREE but there will be buckets available if you would like to make a donation to Cornerstone Community Outreach, the distributor of our mats. You can check them out at http://www.ccolife.org/.
10:00-3:00 Work Day, coffee/water, snacks, photos available ($10 for 4×6, $15 for 5×7, $20 for 8×10 . . . $50 to CCO)
10:00-11:00 Edizon Dayao with his big band sound will be belting out old favorites
11:00 Door prizes will be handed out
11:00-12:00 Mike Kellerhals will be sharing his take on Broadway tunes
12:00 Door prizes will be handed out
12:00-12:45 Voice of the Turtle will be sharing contemporary Christian tunes
lunch buffet will be ready about noon – feel free to bring a dish to share
12:45-1:00 Sandy Ramsey, executive director of Cornerstone Community Outreach will be speaking
1:00 Door prizes will be handed out
1:00-3:00 The AMAZING Celtic group, The Crossing will be playing
You can check them out at http://grrrrecords.com/crossing.cfm%20what%20will%20you%20do
CDs will be available for purchase
2:00 Door prizes will be handed out
LOOKING FORWARD TO SEEING YOU!
Below is the article posted on May 12, 2011
There are men and women who end up sleeping outside on the ground, sometimes because there’s no room in the area shelters and sometimes by choice, due to mental health or just not wanting to be closed in. Our staff works tirelessly to get them on housing lists, into counseling services, and hooked up with medical care. I affectionately call these people The Alley Cats.
If you drive down a darkened alley to the back of the tire store, you will find any number of homeless men and women sleeping on the cement loading dock. Or if you drive under the elevated CTA tracks in the parking lot behind Aldis, you will find a few people tucked into corners preparing to sleep for the night. Then there is the park along the lake. Sometimes you will see people under bushes, sometimes they are sleeping right out in the open. These are the places where we hand out blankets and homemade plastic mats made by seniors in local nursing homes.
On one night I team up with the city of Chicago to survey homeless people who are living or staying outside for future housing. We check under viaducts, in parking lots, and on loading docks. At our first stopwe hit the loading docks at 4:30 in the morning where about a dozen people are sleeping. Barry sleeps out there. He was a security guard most of his adult life but had to pull the plug on his dying father several years ago and has not been able to recover. He gets an interview for housing and a mat. Barry is close to his mother and the mat reminds him of home.
Nancy is out there too. She has been arrested for drugs and prostitution numerous times. Used and abused as a child, she has not been able to pull herself up by her damaged bootstraps, so she is on the dock and also gets a mat.
Nancy was raised in foster care, and didn’t really have a mother, but the colorful mats cheer her anyway.
Everyone on the dock that night gets a mat along withhope for future housing.
On another night I am coming home from work. I notice a man carrying large sheets of cardboard. I know he is not looking for the nearest blue bin to recycle. It’s cold and he is planning to use the cardboard to lie on for the night. His spot is under an overhanging roof of a community college. I recognize the man. He works 12 hours a day at a small restaurant for little pay and therefore misses the shelter sign-in to receive a bed for the night. I remember the mats in the back of my van and offer one to him. He gratefully receives it and I am happy that his situation has just been upgraded, at least a little bit, thanks to the mat.
Sometimes my husband and I drive around with the mats looking for people we know who will be sleeping outside. On this night we are looking for Archie and Sharon, a couple who have been on the streets for years. We stop and ask the other Alley Cats which direction they were last seen. Archie and Sharon tend to lose their mats. It’s cold and we want to give them another set. We eventually catch up with them and give them mats for that night. Thankfully at this writing we have been able to place them in housing and the mats are now just a pleasant memory in a long homeless past.
Dave, an army vet, sleeps in a tent out in the park in all kinds of weather. Sometimes he stays in our shelter program but many times he’s outside “because he has to have air.” Twenty years ago, Dave spent three years in the army in North Africa and actually shook Gaddafi’s hand. Way back then, the horrifying things he witnessed in that regime took its toll. He was discharged from the army suffering from Post Traumatic Stress syndrome. Now he suffers from seizures and has large scars on his head from several brain surgeries. The mat fits nicely in Dave’s tent when he feels like he can’t come in at night.
It is the night of the February blizzard. Our shelter dining room turns into an emergency shelter for anyone caught out in the weather. Although we have been provided extra blankets for this emergency, there are not enough mattresses. Out come the mats to help cushion against the hard floor. Fourteen people will sleep on the mats for the next few days escaping the biggest blizzard in years.
On the production end, the mats represent life, activity, compassion – Countless hours of assembly and crafting by caring, dedicated, energetic, purposeful, and “green” individuals in the New Life for Old Bags program.
On the receiving end, each mat that is rolled out and slept on bears a human being with a story on a surface somewhere that is not meant for getting a good night’s sleep. The beauty, function and charm of the mats are woventogether with the needs of poor, the suffering and the forgotten. On behalf of the Alley Cats, we are thankful for this program. Thank you.
Sandy Ramsey, Director
Cornerstone Community Outreach