Caritas Family Solutions is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year and kicked off the year-long celebrations with a ribbon-cutting at St. John Bosco Children’s Center (SJBCC).
The ribbon-cutting was in celebration of its new playground expansion which will provide additional play areas and a home-like environment for the foster children living at SJBCC. SJBCC provides a loving and structured home for up to 36 boys and girls ages 8-18, who are not currently able to be placed in a traditional foster care setting because of the extreme trauma they have endured.
“This playground expansion is a perfect example of the work we do on a daily basis to provide a loving, home-like environment for the youth in our care,” said Caritas Family Solutions CEO Gary Huelsmann. “These are children who need support to heal from the trauma they’ve endured and playing is an important part of that healing process. We’re so grateful to all of our community partners who came out to celebrate the beginning of our 75th anniversary with us and made this project possible.”
Caritas has continuously grown over the last 75 years. The nonprofit currently cares for roughly 10% of all foster kids in Illinois, which equals around 1,700 children per month. Huelsmann added that while the largest percentage of their work is still in foster care, Caritas also provides a variety of other human services needs including pregnancy care for women who are homeless, independent living for adults with developmental disabilities and employment assistance for seniors among others.
“Caritas has been around for 75 years and over that time our mission has grown and expanded to include a wide array of services spanning all walks of life,” said Huelsmann. “The meaning of ‘Caritas’ is love or to hold others in high esteem. This anniversary is really about acknowledging our ‘Legacy of Love’ and celebrating all of the lives we’ve been able to positively impact over that time.”
As part of the nonprofit’s 75th-anniversary celebration, Caritas also buried a time capsule which will be opened on July 31, 2047, when Caritas celebrates its 100th anniversary.
RASI, Gonzalez Companies, Archford Capital, Walmart and William H. & Mary E. Baker Charitable Trust all provided grants and resources for the playground expansion project. Ameren Illinois also presented a $20,000 check to Caritas at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Founded in 1947, Caritas Family Solutions is a nonprofit social service agency whose mission is to strengthen the social and emotional well-being of individuals and families in order to create healthy relationships, loving homes, and strong communities. Services include adoption, pregnancy care for women who are homeless, foster care, counseling, residential treatment for children healing from abuse and/or neglect, independent living for adults with developmental disabilities (CILA), and assisted living and employment assistance for low-income seniors.
Caritas serves more than 6,000 individuals annually across Southern Illinois from offices located in Belleville, Carterville, Mount Vernon, Olney, Glen Carbon, Alton and Effingham as well as satellite locations in Highland and Sparta. For additional information, visit www.caritasfamilysolutions.org.
This story was also published in the October 2022 print edition of the Illinois Business Journal.