Helping families heal
St. Vincent Catholic Charities, located in Lansing, is a nonprofit dedicated to helping children and families during hard times. Since 1948, St. Vincent’s services include a children’s home, foster care and adoption services, counseling and immigration law clinics.
St. Vincent is known for its children’s home and services, but due to the recent presidential election, immigration has become a hot topic. John Karasinski, associate director of community relations and marketing, says there is more of a push within the nonprofit to bring awareness to immigration law.
“It has definitely been in the forefront of the media and somewhat of a political issue over the past year with the elections coming up and the lack of knowledge and awareness out there,” he said. “Trying to take that upon ourselves to increase the awareness and educate those who may not be aware of how the system works and who these people are, will make for better experiences here.”
According to Karasinski, St. Vincent’s staff consists of two full-time attorneys that together have 28 years of professional experience. They serve those who are in need of support in becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen, renewing a travel visa and U.S. families who are looking to reunite with members living abroad.
Gina Snoeyink, director of counseling and children’s services, oversees programs and services that fall under those umbrellas. She helps staff with substance abuse counseling, mental health counseling and the Seasons program. Seasons offers support for families of individuals that are chronically ill.
“Other support groups in the community offer support for just the sick person. But we want to make sure we’re encompassing the entire family because they’re all affected by something like that,” Snoeyink said.
Snoeyink has been with St. Vincent for 14 years, starting out as a foster care therapist. Now that she is Director of Counseling and Children’s Services, she does not work firsthand with the children and families anymore, but is passionate about helping when needed.
“The resiliency I see in children is amazing. The trauma and things that they go through and their ability to heal and still move forward is inspiring. And I think one of the things that makes me keep doing this work for so long,” she said. “Even families in general, I’ve seen families overcome drug addiction and homelessness, in order to get their family back together. And, having to admit the things they were doing wasn’t okay, which isn’t easy.”
At the end of November, St. Vincent will begin its holiday giving campaign to support their clients during the holiday season. The campaign will start around Thanksgiving and continue through the first two weeks of December.
“We have giving trees set up at Meridian Mall and several stores at Eastwood Towne Center where we have angel packs for all of our clients: adoption and foster care programs, counseling services and refugee clients,” Karasinski said. “People are able to pull a tag, make a donation, purchase a gift and drop it off at any of those locations. All of those gifts go to our clients days before Christmas.”