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Caritas celebrates 73 years of serving southern Illinois

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(WSIL) -- Caritas Family Solutions is celebrating 73 years of serving southern Illinois and needs the support of the community.

The organization has several programs to help neighbors with all stages of life from expecting mothers to senior care and just about everything in between.

Some of these programs include:

  • Adoption services - Adoption from the Heart program is the largest in Southern Illinois
  • Pregnancy Care - Free counseling, 24-hour, assistance with living expenses
  • Foster Care - Largest in southern Illinois and second largest in the state
  • Intact Family Services - Works with parents to change the behavior that puts their children at risk
  • Community Integrated Living Arrangements - Gives adults with developmental disabilities the opportunity to live with assistance but maintain a degree of independence
  • Senior Employment -  Qualified seniors receive employment preparation, job search assistance and a paid public service assignment that provides on-the-job training.
  • Counseling - Counseling to individuals, groups, and families

Caritas CEO Gary Huelsmann says a main focus for the group is its foster care program, which helps thousands of children each year.

"We mostly try to unify them with their family to help with their underlying issue that they might have," he explains. "To get back together in a health way so that the children are safe"

If that's not an option, Caritas helps find the children loving and safe adoptive homes.

Like many organizations COVID-19 has made an impact on how Caritas can operate, its funding and the individuals that the group helps.

"I want to start off with the impact that COVID has had on our families that we serve," Huelsmann says. "The families are sometimes losing their jobs, there is tension at home, higher incidents of mental health issues and substance abuse."

Caritas workers and volunteers have had to get creative with how they check on and look over families, women and children like virtual appointments or visits in the backyard where social distancing can take place.

The organization also had to cancel several fundraisers that normally draw large crowds.

"It's made a pretty profound impact," he explains. "Nothing that we can't handle, but it's still very impactful."

This is the fourth year that Caritas Family Solutions has celebrated its standing in the region by holding a Day of Giving. It's meant to bring awareness about the programs the organizations offers to residents, and shed light on how it takes a community to keep services going.

There are many ways you can step up and help:

  • Volunteer
  • Student internship opportunities
  • Businesses can sponsor upcoming events
  • Foster a child
  • Donate

More information can be found here.

Brooke Schlyer

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