History of Cornerstone
Helen Syriac, Founder
The Cornerstone Foundation is a faith-based, non-profit organization based in Rockville, Connecticut, a former textile mill city about 15 miles northeast of Hartford. The Foundation was started in 1982 by Helen Syriac, a local resident and parishioner at Sacred Heart Church in Vernon. She was so moved by the death of a homeless man, Vern Cook, that she decided to create a place for caring and sharing. She went to her Pastor and asked him if they could use the church library as a shelter. "If one person was seeking shelter, there must be others," she reasoned. Her Pastor agreed, and the first shelter for the homeless in the Vernon area was opened at Sacred Heart Church.
During the first year, 143 people were sheltered, many of whom were single mothers with children. This original shelter still exists today. Helen felt a strong urge to open a "drop-in" center in Rockville, to provide a Christian environment for those who needed a listening ear. She called a few friends, shared the vision, and prayed. An initial site was identified, and after praying for the start-up money, within a few hours a person called and offered a jar of coins he had saved for several years. It was the exact amount needed! From that humble beginning, The Cornerstone Foundation has become the multi-faceted community resource it is today.
The Cornerstone Foundation is a faith ministry with a mission to keep people safe, fed, housed and clothed. We provide help to the community with a community kitchen, three shelters, a food pantry, clothing bank, youth/outreach center and many vital annual initiatives.
Cornerstone has provided food, clothing and shelter to those in need for over 40 years with the help of mostly all volunteers.
We have grown from a nightly homeless shelter at Sacred Heart Church's former library, to a Soup Kitchen and now presently -- five programs in five buildings in Rockville, Connecticut.
For 40 years, Cornerstone has been at the forefront of emergency situations. We have done very well with our mission; to keep people safe, fed, housed and clothed. Unlike many business models however, we do not want our “customer” base to increase, but it is. We need to readjust our vision to include prevention while still caring for those with the most need.