C-U at Home engages and mobilizes our community to house and support the most vulnerable homeless on their journey of healing and restoration. We sat down with Rob Dalhaus, the director of CU at Home to find out more.
What is CU at Home?
CU at Home is a small non-profit homelessness ministry. We have been around for 10 years. We started at working in transitional housing; we had some donors that would let us use some of the houses and extra property. We could then take our folks off the street, put them in houses, and then start working with them on long- and short-term goals. As it evolved over the years, the Phoenix daytime drop-in center came around and now we have several different parts of the ministry as well. Our main goal or mission is to house and support our most vulnerable homeless neighbors, our friends without an address. But it goes far beyond that – it’s empowerment, dignity, trying to offer the community this understanding that our friends on the street are humans just like us. We just want to help serve them, raise them up and help our community do the same.
What are the different parts of the ministry?
We still have our daytime drop in center, where folks from the street and community can come in, hangout and start to break down those stereotypes of someone being homeless. We have education advocacy, our One Winter Night is a part of that, connecting with the community and understanding what our friends go through, and advocating for them. We operate four transitional houses at a scattered site here in the community. We have transportation, so if the service isn’t available here in the town, then we can take the person out of town to treatment or detox we can physically drive them there. We have 24-hour street outreach so we can connect with local law enforcement, the hospital, park districts, business owners, and concerned citizens. Just this year we have a year-round men and women’s emergency shelters, we also have a work program that we partner with the township office.
How did CU at Home get started?
I’ve only been with CU at Home since September of 2016. Our founder Melany Jackson actually sold all of her possessions and moved into Restoration Urban Ministries just over 10 years ago to see what it would be like to be homeless. She had an experience on the Canteen Run where she was out handing out gloves, hats and coats and the group that was doing this offered to pray for this group of men that they were serving, and this one guy asked if he could pray for her. And so, there was this moment where they realized there was more they could do for the folks on the streets. That was the birth of CU at Home.
Do you partner with church’s here in the community?
The faith community is certainly the lifeline of what we do at CU at Home. We have well over a dozen churches that support us on a monthly basis, another 40 that support us with random gifts throughout the year. We definitely partner heavily with the churches because we are a ministry and while we don’t preach, part of our mission is to be out there showing the love of Jesus, to show the compassion of Christ to our men and women who have been beat down, have made a bad choice, have had bad breaks. They need hope and part of our mission is to share that hope. It’s a great opportunity to start a conversation.
How can a business or individual get involved with CU at Home?
As an individual there are a lot of ways to get involved. There is always your time, your treasure, and your talent. There are plenty of volunteer opportunities for individuals especially coming up with our One Winter Night event, which will be at the Venue CU in downtown Champaign – we are super excited about that space. There is a monthly giving campaign that goes through the year called our Hope Givers Campaign that was started in an effort to help the men and women’s shelter become self-sustaining. For a business, there are a couple of ways. The first way is we want to serve those businesses that may interact with our friends on the street, especially downtown, midtown and campustown. That’s a big panhandling area for so many of our friends. We have connected with several businesses on Green Street and downtown where if they are having a problem, then we encourage them to call our outreach team before calling the police. That has been really well-received especially by our friends on the street because so many of them have trust issues with people of authority figures. Another way business can serve us is through business sponsorship at One Winter Night or donating services.
What do you do outside of work?
CU at Home is an all-consuming blessing and I say that with all sincerity. When thinking of prioritizing my life its God, Family and then work. I don’t always succeed at that but it’s what I strive to do. I have three kiddos, they keep my life very exciting. My wife and I have coached our sons tee ball team before and now they are involved in more sports. Besides that, I love playing golf and watching football and baseball as well.
Learn more about CU at Home online.