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Champaign Park District Joins C-U at Home to Support Our Friends Without an Address

C-U at Home is a grace-centered ministry dedicated to serving the most vulnerable homeless member of our community. They strive to engage and mobilize our community to house and support our friends without an address on their journey of healing and restoration.

We have partnered with C-U at Home to help our friends without an address who take shelter in our parks and on trails. C-U at Home is an amazing resource we have in our community. We’re excited for the opportunity to work together to create a more harmonious home for everyone. 


Douglass Community Center hosted C-U at Home for 4 months at the beginning of the COVID-19 quarantine to help support our friends on the streets.

“When this came out about 6 feet of spacing, we did not have the square footage at our location to accommodate that,” said Dalhaus, referencing a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guideline that individuals keep that distance between them and other at all times to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

“We immediately began looking for other temporary locations,” Dalhaus said. “The Douglass Center came up. That’s through the (Champaign) Park District. They’ve obviously been incredibly easy to work with, allowing us to use that space rent-free in this time of turmoil.”-News-Gazette


Another aspect of C-U at Home we as a community can access is their 24-Hour Street Outreach Team! If you see someone in our parks who seem to be in need of some support, you can call C-U at Home’s 24-Hour Street Outreach phone number for someone to come and assist our friends in our parks. They will even help you through the situation if you feel comfortable to support them yourself!

Save 217-888-0329 in your contacts to help our friends without an address.

Here are some of the great ways C-U at Home supports our community:

Phoenix Daytime Drop-In Center

The Phoenix Daytime Drop-In Center brings our friends without an address together with our friends from the community. We are open from noon-5pm, every Tuesday-Friday and additional hours during extreme heat and cold weather. The Phoenix offers an opportunity to get in out of the weather and have personal needs met. Friends can take a shower, do laundry, get a haircut, or simply hang out. The Phoenix Center also serves a place where mail can be picked up and documents can be notarized. Important support organizations such as the local Townships, the U. S. Census Bureau, and the Regional Planning Commission regularly provide services on site as well.


Our Men’s Emergency Shelter (located at 70 E. Washington St.) and Austin’s Place Women’s Shelter (currently at New Covenant Fellowship Church) provide a much-needed haven of rest for our friends. They receive bedding, snacks, and hope.  Some friends help around the facility by doing laundry, cleaning bathrooms, mopping the floors, or removing trash. Until this year, our Emergency Shelters were only open from roughly November to April.  With the onset of this year’s pandemic, they have stayed open and will, with the help of generous donors and community partners, remain so from here on.

The Men’s Shelter houses an average of almost 50 men per night.  Over 500 men have stayed with us since last November.  Austin’s Place Women’s Shelter will be relocating to 70 E. Washington St. after renovations are completed here this fall.  Austin’s Place currently houses an average of 9 women per night, and over 100 women have stayed with us since last November. Austin’s Place is named in honor of Austin Cloyd, a college student who used her summers to initiate service organizations and work on service projects. She was tragically killed in the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting. 

Transitional Housing

Transitional Housing is provided for individuals coming out of substance abuse recovery programs or incarceration.  We operate a six bed Men’s Recovery House, a two bed Women’s House, a three-bed “Step-Above” house, and small Family House. Residents stay for 6-12 months and are provided with weekly case management and a spiritual adviser.  Through ongoing support, encouragement, and mentoring, residents learn to become more independent, self-sufficient, and able to enjoy a stable life on their own in the future.


Street Outreach Team & Transportation Ministry

One of our primary goals in serving our friends without an address is making sure that they know that C-U at Home is here for them, not just to provide physical resources, but relationships. Many of these connections are first established through our Street Outreach Team and Transportation Ministry.  Our dedicated staff go out on the streets and visit local parks daily.  They are usually out in the early mornings and late evenings checking on our friends, letting them know about the services we offer to support their needs.  We offer transportation to our Emergency Shelters, appointments with community support organizations, or for medical needs.


We also transport individuals to addiction treatment centers and help arrange out-of-town travel for those who have found opportunities to make a new start somewhere else, or to simply get back home to family. Since the beginning of this year, more than 60 people have been helped by C-U at Home with rides, the cost of bus or train tickets, and other transportation assistance. We come alongside whatever they can offer to get the help they need, by covering part of the cost or through helping out around our facility.


CU at Work Program

Our “C-U at Work” program gives those in need the opportunity to earn an income by serving their community.  Participants have no other source of income and are involved with our Emergency Shelters or Phoenix Drop-in Center.  In first the two years of the program’s existence, more than 125 individuals have participated. The program began as a trash abatement/city beautification project.  Participants also keep the grounds of our property clean and help out around the facility as needed.  Since the Spring of 2020, crews have taken on a new challenge:  growing vegetables at Prosperity Gardens, 302 N. First Street in Champaign.  Hundreds of pounds of fresh produce have since been harvested and donated to the Daily Bread Soup Kitchen.


Education & Advocacy

One final part of the work we do is Education and Advocacy.  We use a variety of approaches to help ministry partners and the broader community learn more about the work that we do, why we do it, and why the need exists. We also communicate and coordinate with other community resources that provide supportive services to our friends. We are viewed as the go-to resource on homelessness for local media and beyond, and we stay connected with supporters and community organizations through our newsletters and social media.

Our Executive Director, Rob Dalhaus III, frequently speaks and offers presentations to local community groups, civic organizations, and churches Another important tool for this purpose is the promotion, distribution, and screening of the documentary film, “The Phoenix: Hope is Rising,” produced in 2016 by Phil Gioja and Isaac Musgrave. Even as we speak, Phil is hard at work on a follow-up film that will be coming out next year!

Get Involved

Have you ever wanted to be a part of something bigger than yourself but just didn’t know how? Well now you have that opportunity! C-U at Home has a multitude of ways to get involved. Check out our list to the right and see how you can take part in serving the most vulnerable in our community.

Whatever your abilities, there is always a place for you to serve at C-U at Home!

One Winter Night

One Winter Night is an annual event that provides a powerful opportunity for our community to learn about homelessness, raise awareness for our friends without an address, and experience a bit of what it might be like to be outside, overnight, in the coldest part of a Central Illinois Winter.

Participants commit to spending 12 hours outside in a cardboard box in downtown Champaign. Box dwellers come from all walks of life, local government leaders, police officers, pastors, business leaders, students, grandmas and grandpas, moms and dads. Visit their website for more information.

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