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Finishing Chicago makes life brighter for Chicago’s homeless

Corner StoneChicago's homeless come to Cornerstone Community Outreach Center for shelter, hot meals and life-enriching programs. Now, thanks to the Finishing Chicago, their surroundings are brighter and more inviting.

About 20 Finishing Chicago volunteered their time and professional skills to give the inside of the shelter a dramatic facelift in October. It took two full days and 46 gallons of donated, high-quality paint to freshen common areas throughout the five-story building. The shelter is now even more welcoming for the more than 300 residents who make it their temporary home.

"It really lifts their spirits," says Sandy Ramsey, Cornerstone's executive director. "The residents usually stay here for only about three to four months, but we want them to feel as comfortable as possible."

Charitable ProjectsAfter making minor cosmetic repairs to the walls, Finishing Chicago members got to work in the shelter's hallways and stairwells. These areas had not been painted in several years and featured a patchwork quilt of colors. These surfaces now have a unified and soothing look with soft white and honey-colored paint.

"The common areas really needed a makeover," says Clark Johnson, the Finishing Chicago marketing director. "You can see an immediate difference. It looks so much more pleasant and bright."

Skilled at working in occupied buildings, the contractors were respectful of residents' privacy, working quickly and quietly. They also accommodated dozens of visitors who came to see the work as it was in progress, moving out of the way when needed.

"As successful members of the community, we have a responsibility to help those who are less fortunate and contribute to the common good," says one Finishing Chicago member who participated in the project. "Cornerstone Community Outreach provides a critical service and has an amazing program. We're glad to be in a position to help make life a little better for the people who rely on this vital organization."

The shelter, which opened in 1989, relies on volunteers for day-to-day operations as well as improvement projects. Without the Finishing Chicago donating skilled labor, the facility would likely not have been painted for some time, and certainly not professionally, Ramsey says.

Corner StoneThe initiative was part of the Benjamin Moore® Color Across America project, which involved paint makeovers for shelters across the country. connects residential, commercial and industrial customers with the right painting, wallcovering and drywall finishing contractors throughout the greater Chicago area. FCAC contractors are licensed, bonded and insured, and they are 10- and 30-hour OSHA-trained.

For more information about the FCAC and its philanthropic projects, contact Clark Johnson at, 773-993-0657