Photo Information

Lance Cpl. Jesse Marquez interacts with Kendrick Thomas, 5, during lunch at Cornerstone Community Center in Chicago May 13. Aboout 25 Marines were on hand to help serve food and clean-up the basement of the shelter as a part of the first ever Marine Week.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Bryan G. Carfrey

Giving back to the community one ‘cornerstone’ at a time

13 May 2009 | Lance Cpl. Bryan G. Carfrey

About 25 Marines, many from the Chicago-based 2nd Battalion, 24th Marines—a reserve infantry battalion — joined other volunteers at the Cornerstone Community Center in Chicago to help feed the needy and clean-up the facility today.

Today’s volunteer effort was a part of a week-long event dubbed “Marine Week Chicago,” which is currently underway with events scheduled through Sunday.

“Today the wonderful Marines came and wowed everyone,” said Sandy Ramsey, director of Cornerstone Community Center.

The Marines on hand cleaned out the basement, managing to fill a large dumpster twice with recyclables. They also worked in the kitchen serving food and were able to enjoy lunch with the native Chicagoans they served.

“It takes Marines to get that basement in order,” said Ramsey. “We certainly appreciate their hard work.”

“It’s very helpful to have them here,” said Cornerstone resident Kenisha Mhoon. “We need the help here, but don’t have many people to help.”

Kenisha, her 4-year-old daughter Kyla and husband Lamar arrived at Cornerstone in February after losing their apartment in a fire.

“They feed us three times a day, and try to find us housing,” said Mhoon. “They help us with the critical items.”

The facility houses everyone from infants to senior citizens and all types of families.

“It’s hard on us but we will get through it,” Mhoon said.

Individuals at the shelter usually stay to themselves because they don’t usually have anyone to talk to, said Mhoon.

“The Marines have told us stories we don’t usually get to hear,” said Mhoon. “People are still hanging around because they (Marines) are here, this place would usually be empty by now.”

The impact of the today’s volunteer efforts hit close to home for many — especially for those Marines native to the Chicago area.

“It’s really nice to be close to home and have such a positive impact,” said Lance Cpl. Zach L. Edelstein, a native of Niles, Ill. “Everyone is telling us how productive today has been and that we are making a difference.”

“I’m thrilled they chose Chicago, none of this would be happening if it wasn’t Marine Week,” said Edelstein. I’m personally very proud to be involved in the first ever Marine Week. I think today did a lot of good.”

The ongoing struggle never stops for such establishments, as the need for volunteers never slows down, according to Ramsey.

“We always need volunteers,” said Ramsey. “One of the Marines main things in life is to help and protect people. I’ve seen that today.”

The shelter doesn’t want the Marines to think their work went unnoticed.

“What the Marines did today lifts up the spirits of the entire staff,” said Ramsey. “I want the Marines to know they have made a difference here today.”

More information about Marine Week Chicago can be found on

Marine Corps News

Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps