New work program in Champaign to help homeless community


    A program is helping the homeless put some cash in their pockets. (WCCU)<p>{/p}

    A program is helping the homeless put some cash in their pockets.

    It's a new approach by Champaign to give the homeless community a second chance, all while doing some good.

    Every Wednesday morning for four hours, the group will go to different areas in the city and clean up the grounds.

    It's called C-U @ Work. They take about four to six people and in the end, they pocket $40.

    “These are our friends that are living on the street and they are out making the city better,” said Rob Dalhoaus, director of C-U at Home.

    It's a partnership between City of Champaign Township and C-U at Home, with the funding coming from the township.

    The idea was modeled off a program miles away in New Mexico.

    “I though what a great opportunity to take a program like that and bring it to Champaign-Urbana," said Andy Quarnstorm, supervisor of the City of Champaign Township.

    And seven weeks in, they say it's going strong.

    “They are just like you and I and they have fallen on hard times,” said Quarnstorm. “This is a great way to get them back on their feet, give them some dignity and erase the stigma and put some money in their pocket."

    But for Ronnie Smith, the program is not all about the money. Instead, it’s that sense of accomplishment that brings him back every week.

    “We are just good-hearted people who want to look out for the community, that's all,” Smith said.

    After the group finishes cleaning, they head back and are served lunch and offered any case management services they might need.

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