Belleville, Ill. (September 27, 2016) – Caritas Family Solutions recently named Kitty Wusstig as events coordinator for the agency. In this new position, Wusstig will be responsible for enhancing current agency events, identifying new events and third-party fundraising. Her first fundraising event for the agency will be the Annual Lanes of Change Bowling Tournament in Salem, Ill. This event will help raise funds for services provided to the community such as foster care, adoption, senior services and counseling. [Read more…]
Between the ladies at Fox River Assisted Living Center, 649 years of marriage has been accumulated. When asked what advice they would share regarding marriage, these are the words of wisdom they gave:
“Don’t play the blame game, learn to compromise.”
“Don’t get mad at the same time.”
“Honesty and friendship are the keys to a happy marriage.”
“Trust each other, you can work through anything.”
“Make sure you tell them you love them before you go to bed, always.”
“Talk through your problems when you’re not angry, communication is key.”
“Stand behind your mate and make decisions together.”
“Never go to bed without making amends, for better or worse goes both ways.”
Donate to the resident’s activity fund
A new venture for Caritas
In January 2014, Caritas Family Solutions decided to take on a new venture and start working with individuals with developmental disabilities. Caritas started the CILA program (Community Integrated Living Arrangement) from the ground up. Even though this program has only been open just over a year, a lot has happened and it has been a thrilling ride thus far. A quote by Winston Churchill explains the process well, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
Our first home
Even though the CILA program technically opened in January 2014, it wasn’t until September when we were finally able to open the doors for individuals to move into their everlasting home. During the eight month process, Jamie Diekemper, CILA manager, worked hard at meeting residents, guardians, and families who were interested in moving into a new home where they would have their own room and live in a more intimate family setting with three other housemates. She made sure the housemates had some familiar interests and life aspects to ensure they would get along well and enjoy the home as their new found family. Jamie not only had to discover interested individuals, but she also had to develop policies and procedures, get the home move-in ready, and hire new employees.
Obstacles along the way
In addition to Jamie’s efforts, Caritas worked with developers to decide on a place and style of a home they would like to build. We were first told the home would take ninety days to be completed, but we soon learned there were many obstacles we would face along the way. We broke ground on our home April 2014. The home wasn’t complete until August 2014 and with all the state, city and county guidelines, our first resident did not move in until September 22, 2014.
By September 27, 2014, we had three individuals living in our newly built 4-bedroom home. The fourth individual moved into the home the middle of November 2014. All the residents are happy to be living as independently as they possibly can. They do several activities such as: Day Training or Workshop five days per week, visit with family (either go on home visits or their family comes to their new home), go shopping, bowling, see shows, out to eat, etc. Their abilities are endless! It is great to see them thrive in a new setting by meeting new people, making new friends, learning new skills and of course still living an independent live style.
Continuing to grow
As of February 26, 2015, another newly built 4-bedroom CILA home opened. Three new individuals are in the process of moving in and really seem to enjoy their new space. Also, Caritas is currently in the process of striving to open another CILA home, prospected for late Spring 2015 into early Summer 2015. Caritas not only gained a new program, they gained an everlasting family.
“Oh my gosh, I could never do that job! How do you handle it?” is the normal reaction I receive after telling someone the short answer about where I work. The short answer I would have given before this response is the simple but unnerving statement of, “I work in child welfare.” More specifically, foster care.
It is my perception that the general public pictures me as some sort of saint searching rainy, stray cat-infested alleyways for orphans at nighttime. For those a little more privy to what actually happens in this arena, the reaction I receive can range anywhere from contempt to gratitude.
So what is it that I, as a social worker, actually do? My job in the foster care team at Caritas Family Solutions is a Licensing Specialist. Essentially, I work with foster parents of all kinds and help them obtain and maintain a foster care license for the purposes of foster care. I work with relatives like grandparents, aunts, and uncles as well as a sect of the general community who have also chosen to open their home to non-related children. Unlike my comrade counterparts, case managers, my clients are foster parents not foster children.
On a general day you can find me doing mandated paperwork, staffing child placement decisions, answering phone calls, emails and questions, designing a foster parent newsletter, setting up for our monthly foster parent support group, or out in the field visiting foster parents in their homes for monthly safety monitoring visits. Sometimes, it can seem like a regular ol’ job. Then a crisis hits…and all of a sudden I am working through stressful and emotional situations with my coworkers that can dramatically affect a child’s stability, and mental, emotional, or physical health. To some, this may seem like a daunting task and sometimes it is. But I think I can speak for most social workers when I say that when we find the home for a homeless or unwanted child, or we take a child out of an abusive situation and watch them be lovingly welcomed into a better or safer environment – those glimmers of hope restore our faith in humanity once again. These glimmers oftentimes even outweigh the downward emotional pull that foster care jobs can sometimes bring.
Theodore Roosevelt said, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” Even though these are simple instructions, those with a heart for foster children know and are spurred on by the notion that there is (and has to be) a brighter light at the end of the tunnel of abuse and neglect. That’s why we do what we do – because we believe it’s there and we won’t stop searching for it.
The Heart & Soul Annual Gala took place on February 7, 2015, at the Regency Conference Center in O’Fallon, Illinois. The event proved to be memorable for all who attended. Everyone was wined and dined, mingling with other charitable individuals from Southern Illinois and Missouri. While placing bids on a variety of silent auction items, guests enjoyed delicious hors d’oeuvres that included; Spanakopita, Goat Cheese Enrobed Grapes with Chopped Pistachios, and Blackened Rib Eye Bites. For dinner, the guests were served a Drambuie Poached Pear Salad, a dual entrée of Roasted Salmon with Lemon Caper Sauce and Roasted Pork Loin with Cherry Sauce, Roasted Garlic Cream Cheese Whipped Red Potatoes, and Mixed Fresh Vegetables. Dessert included either Dark Chocolate Mousse or Pecan Pie.
Our honorary chairperson for the Gala was Tess Boyer from NBC’s The Voice Season Six. She spoke about her experience on The Voice and indicated that Usher is as handsome and suave in person as most women think! She also performed three hits that ranged from oldies to current tunes.
Cindy Collins from KLOU 103.3 FM served as our outstanding Master of Ceremonies. She kept the audience’s attention and was enthusiastic about the Caritas mission. Dave Schumacher, from Schumacher Auction Service took bids for the live auction and the Fund-A-Need, which raised money for homes for individuals with developmental disabilities. Dave did not disappoint! He was fun to listen to and made the guests want to bid!
The live auction featured items that ranged from a penthouse suite viewing the ocean in Panama City Beach, Florida, to original artwork crafted by the boys of St. John Bosco Children’s Center!
The Heart & Soul Annual Gala 2015 honored a very special group of people and gave them the first Heart & Soul Award. Pastor Robert J. Dyer and the First United Presbyterian Church in Belleville have been instrumental in volunteer efforts at the St. John Bosco Children’s Center. Pastor Rob organized more than 70 volunteers to paint the children’s bedrooms and the congregation is always thinking of new ways to engage the boys from the Center in activities at the Church. Caritas Family Solutions is forever grateful to the work and dedication of Pastor Rob and the First United Presbyterian Church.
The evening was full of energy and love for Caritas Family Solutions and the services provided to the most vulnerable in Southern Illinois. The agency is overwhelmed with the support from the event sponsors and guests.
Thank you to everyone that supported the Heart & Soul Annual Gala 2015!
The beginning of the year is a time for resolutions and self-improvement, which may be why January is National Getting Organized Month. Organization reduces stress and increases productivity. It might not be easy, but the end result is worth it.
Organization takes time and effort whether it is at home or at work. Keep in mind that getting organized is a process and it might take weeks or even months to completely organize your home or work space. To help you get started I have researched simple tips on how to get organized. Here are a few of my favorites:
Organization at work:
-Clear the clutter. Keep a trash can by your desk and if you don’t need it throw it away. When you leave trash on your desk it piles up and takes up space you could be using productively.
-File faster. Create a color coded filing system for all the papers you have lying around and file them immediately after use. It will save you time when you have to go back and look for documents and it will make your desk much neater.
-Digitally declutter. Go through your inbox on a daily basis and delete junk mail. Junk mail piles up quickly and takes up a lot of memory on your computer. Also, unsubscribe from unwanted chain mail. It will take a couple extra minutes but it will save you from multiple daily email blasts.
-Consolidate your reminders. Get in the habit of writing down important dates and meetings in one place and stick with it. It makes it easier to schedule meetings when you can look in one place to see what’s coming up on your schedule.
Organization at home:
-Assign a place for everything you own and put things where they work for you. You won’t have to spend time looking for what you need because it will always be in the same place.
-Set a goal for each week. Pick a room to completely organize, and work on it a little bit each day. It is important not to overwhelm yourself by taking on too much at once. You don’t want to make a bigger mess and run out of time to clean it up.
-Use Altoid tins to store small items. Store small items like thumbtacks, paper clips and rubber bands in the tins and label them. Keeping these items in small tins reduces clutter and makes them easier to find when you need them.
-Keep your keys from getting lost by giving them a specific place the minute you get home. Keeping your keys in the same spot each day saves time when you are in a rush to get out the door.
When organizing remember to keep it SIMPLE.
S- Store like with like
M- Make a home for it
P- Put it into containers
L- Label it
E- Establish a routine
I love the start of each new year because it’s natural to reflect on the previous year and set goals for the year ahead. As I do this, I realize that Caritas Family Solutions is truly evolving in order to continue serving the most vulnerable in the new year and beyond.
2014 was a remarkable year with many new beginnings. We started the year with a new name that better speaks to the work we do. Caritas means “charity”, “love” or “to hold others in high esteem”. Though we changed our name, we are still true to our original Articles of Incorporation from 1947 which state that we exist to help find solutions for families and individuals. I am proud yet humbled that our agency still values helping others to live more healthy and productive lives.
Also in 2014, we began offering a new service known as “Community Integrated Living Arrangements” or CILA homes which provide independent housing for developmentally disabled adults. Supporting adult individuals with special needs is an encouraging way for us to expand our services and to fully live out our mission, vision and values.
We are also continuing to build our infrastructure to better serve those in need and better manage expenses. In October 2014, we purchased the building in which we operate the St. John Bosco Children’s Center in Belleville. The 64,000 sq. ft. building will allow us to expand and improve the center to better serve the young abused children that need residential treatment services. Space is also being remodeled to house our Belleville Regional Office and combine services in one location for ease of management and expense reduction. Some additional space will be rented to other non-profit organizations to allow for collaboration that in turn better serves the community. This is a very exciting venture and we look forward to the new opportunities that owning the building provides.
Another ongoing project for 2015 is the continued improvement and expansion of our communication and development activity. We are continually asked to respond to many needs in Southern Illinois. In order to do this, we need to communicate through various means our need for support in order to build a more just and caring society. This blog as well as our redesigned website are examples of our efforts to better reach out to the community for this support.
The outlook for the new year is bright. Caritas is growing and changing and thriving, and this tells me that we are alive and well in Southern Illinois! We continue to do amazing work with people of all ages and backgrounds. Our staff, foster parents and volunteers are thoroughly committed to improving the lives of those we serve. Please learn more about our services and our positive outcomes. Visit our website and ask us questions. I am confident you will want to be a part of the solutions that we provide. Perhaps that could be YOUR goal for the new year.
With Sincere Gratitude,
Gary Huelsmann, MSW
Caritas Family Solutions
Belleville, IL – July 1, 2014: Caritas Family Solutions (Caritas), the largest provider of foster care services in Southern Illinois, received a helping hand from the Home Depot store in O’Fallon, Illinois which provided the supplies to construct a ramp at the foster home for a child that uses a wheelchair.. Employees from the store donated their time to complete the project. [Read more…]