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The Cornerstone Foundation is a 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 P.O. Box 2036 Rockville, CT 06066-1436 860.871.1823 info@Cornerstone-Rockville.org




Tri-Town Shelter Services, Inc. is a fifteen bed facility providing temporary housing, compassionate care, competent case management, and the effective coordination of services resulting in personal growth and productivity.

Tri-Town Shelter ServicesTri-Town Shelter Services, Inc. is currently overseen by a Board of Directors. Since 1986 the program has been led by a Board of Directors and full-time Executive Director. There are 6 shift supervisors, 5 part-time staff and 1 part-time bookkeeper. Although there have been many changes through the years, our mission has remained constant. While residents are in a safe environment, with the support of compassionate and competent staff, they have the opportunity to reclaim responsible control over their lives while experiencing hope, healing, and wholeness.

To provide a safe, stable, and supportive environment for individuals and families to address their challenges in ways that promote their development as productive and contributing members of the community.

Tri-Town Shelter Services' Values

- Our top priority is client care with integrity, respect and compassion.
- Our most valuable asset is our staff.
- Partnerships and volunteers make a difference.
- Strength is found in diversity.
- All individuals should be empowered to be all that they can be physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and relationally.
- Each of us are vessels of change and vehicles for change.
- Empathy, encouragement, equipping, and education are   always the best practice to achieve empowerment.
- Community is an essential element in each human life.
- Everyone needs long lasting relationships with nurturing people.
- Collaboration and teamwork with others produces the best results.
- Accountability brings out the best in each of us.
- Our success depends on a broad base of community support.

Tri-Town Shelter Services  Phone:  (860) 875-9702 Fax:  (860) 875-6804  P.O. Box 28   Vernon, CT 06066




The Partnership for Strong Communities is a non-profit thought leader and policy advocacy organization focused on fostering vibrant communities, eliminating homelessness and creating homes.

We believe that a strong community begins with a home for each of its members. A home is the foundation for strong neighborhoods, economic opportunity, healthy people, and educational success. To this end, the Partnership creates and promotes proven solutions for homelessness, supportive and affordable housing, and community development. We connect key state and federal policymakers, local officials, corporate leaders and non-for-profit organizations so that public and private resources can be wisely used to affect positive changes in policies that make our communities better places to live and work.

Since its founding in 1998, the Partnership has successfully advocated for more than $400 million in public funding in Connecticut which has helped build homes and created programs to end chronic homelessness. We have engaged civic and elected leaders to imagine, plan and execute effective change and to create a new paradigm of thinking about housing.

The Partnership was founded with a grant from The Melville Charitable Trust. We are based in Hartford, Connecticut at the Lyceum, a center dedicated to the promotion of innovative solutions to housing policy.



Vernon officials look into more ways to serve homeless

By Suzanne Carlson
Journal Inquirer

Published: Tuesday, November 30, 2010 3:07 PM EST


VERNON — Community organizers came together Monday to discuss strategies to combat homelessness and marshal resources for those struggling with issues such as poverty, mental illness, and substance abuse.

Representatives from several volunteer organizations, faith-based groups, and town commissions gathered to discuss collaborative ways to fight homelessness. And Vernon Community Network president Alan Slobodien and fellow VCN forum organizer Bryan Flint said it’s time to stop talking and get to work on the perennially thorny issue.

“I believe we need to make concrete steps and we need to take action,” Slobodien said at the group’s first public forum, held at the Church of the Nazarene in the Rockville section of town.

“Are we the community helping them in the right way? The shelters can’t do it alone,” Flint said.

Much of the discussion centered around the town’s two homeless shelters, Tri-Town Shelter Services at 93 East Main St., and Cornerstone Foundations Inc., at 15 Prospect St., which are also the only two homeless shelters in Tolland County.

Combined, the shelters provide a total of 30 beds. But Tri-Town executive director Pieter Nijssen said there are between 180 and 367 people per month who are referred elsewhere because local services are tapped out.

On a broader scale, Nijssen said that Connecticut’s 47 shelters only serve about 7 percent of the state’s homeless population, and community leaders need to decide whether to create more available beds, or restructure local social services to try to reduce the number of people who depend on shelters.

The problem has been compounded by the recent economy, which has dried up funding for shelters and other services such as counseling, while increasing the number of jobless and homeless people seeking help.

Despite intense scrutiny by groups such as the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness, which publishes annual reports on shelter use and other statistics, even basic facts about homelessness are still in dispute.

For example, it is widely acknowledged that many homeless people turned away from shelters seek refuge in tent cities tucked into wooded areas.

But former Social Services director Paula Claydon disputed assertions that numerous people, including families, were living outdoors in tents. She said that while working with the federally funded “Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness” program, “we found one homeless person living in the woods and that was by choice.”

Claydon also highlighted the need for more support services to help those struggling with drug abuse, alcoholism, or mental illness, all of which contribute to homelessness.

“We don’t need another shelter, we need to have services available readily to these folks,” Claydon said, adding that Rockville General Hospital, where inebriated homeless are often referred, does not have a detox facility.

But Brian Hunter, a client of the Cornerstone shelter who credited it with helping him in his recovery from alcoholism, said there’s good reason that Claydon and other government officials don’t find more homeless living outdoors.

After losing his home in a fire, “I did end up in the woods of Rockville, living in a tent, like many people living out there,” Hunter said. “We don’t want to be found by the Vernon police, that’s why we hide so far out in the woods.”

Because both of the town’s shelters close during the day, Hunter said he and others were extremely grateful to Bev’s Place, a daytime drop-in center sponsored by Union Congregational Church.

Without Bev’s Place, “I surely would have froze to death,” Hunter said.

Fellow Cornerstone client Richard Robbins cited the economy as the reason for his homelessness. After working for 25 years, Robbins lost his job, and said age discrimination made it hard for him to find employment.

“Once you reach a certain point, it’s nearly impossible to get a job,” Robbins said.

For more information about VCN, including future forums and volunteer opportunities, contact President Alan Slobodien at 860-870-3557, or Bryan Flint at 860-875-1044.

For more information about Tri-Town Shelter Services, contact executive director Pieter Nijssen at 860-875-9702, or email




The Vernon Community Network is a collaboration of providers that will identify
and coordinate Social Service, Health, Educational and Economic Development
resources for the enhancement of the community.

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 Click here for the members of the Vernon Community Network

Alan Slobodien, VCN President - 860/ 870-3555

 Mailing address: Vernon Community Network     c/o KIDSAFE CT     19 Elm Street   Rockville, CT  06066