COOL (Christian Outreach of Lutherans), a 501(c)(3) not for profit organization, was founded by people from six Lutheran Churches in the Waukegan/North Chicago area in 1982 and incorporated as a not-for-profit organization in 1983. The First program was the COOL Food Pantry, opening its doors in January 1983.
In January 2007, a partnership with Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Ingleside, led to the addition of a satellite pantry, COOL Pantry West, which is located in the church and manned by congregational volunteers.
The pantries provide food for breakfast, lunch and dinner along with specialty foods for cardiac and diabetic diets. We offer ethnic foods and foods for those with allergies. In 2011 the Pantries served 39,709 individuals with food enough for 476,508 balanced meals.
The pantries are supported by the entire Lake County community including churches, individuals, government, corporate and foundation grants. Our programs are also supported by the United Way of Lake County.
COOL began the Transitional Housing Program in October of 1988. The purpose of this Family Housing Program is to provide case management to homeless families in need of life re-structuring. Along with case management, we provide a clean, safe place to live, counseling, life skills training and other support services which collectively work to enable guest families to transform their lives and make a smooth progression toward self-sufficient living. COOL provides Phase I rent and utility paid housing for up to 12 months while families work to save enough money for a home down payment or first and last months rent upon leaving the program. Phase II is the same as Phase I with the additional of a low monthly rental payment.
Guest families must be motivated to follow their individual goals plan in order to reach success in every category of their lives. Families must maintain a job, save money, receive counseling, attend money management classes, and acquire better domestic skills and parenting skills. Following the policies and guidelines is mandatory and enables families to achieve successful problem solving skills, such as attaining dependable transportation and adequate childcare, allowing them to progress more quickly and achieve goals more rapidly.
2015 Name Change
The COOL Board of Directors recognizes that COOL has grown substantially over the years. Member churches and supporters are increasingly diverse and though COOL Ministries was founded by a small group of Lutherans in 1983, COOL is now a major Social Service agency serving all of Lake County Illinois. In February of 2015 by unanimous vote of the Directors serving on the COOL Board the official name of the organization was changed from “Christian Outreach of Lutherans” to “COOL Ministries” in recognition that our supporters are not only Lutheran, but come from all walks of life and are as diverse as the clients we serve!