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Kinnis appointed director of Catholic Charities of South Georgia

Originally Appeared in : 9914-7/4/19

One of the newest Pastoral Center employee, Cynthia Kinnis, learned a thing or two about keeping an army strong, first through volunteer work and later her paid employment in social services for the U.S. Department of the Defense.

 

At Fort Bragg, North Carolina and Savannah’s own Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield, her then-husband’s first two duty assignments, she guided families, who the army describes as the strength of soldiers, to information and resources that could help them cope with deployment, redeployment and other aspects of readiness.

 

Later she spent short stints as a background investigator in Savannah and then as a family programs contractor for Beale Airforce Base in California, the state where she was born and raised and earned her undergraduate degree in business administration.

 

“It's not necessarily what I studied in school because this is more of social services,” Kinnis, who also has a graduate degree in business, with a concentration in marketing, said of her time spent working for the army. “But being in business it did help me: Being able to understand more of how all the managing parts come together as well.”

 

Now, as Catholic Charities of South Georgia’s new director, Kinnis will combine her skills in information gathering, analysis and problem solving with her business know-how and passion for service to strengthen a different kind of fighting force for good—the Diocese of Savannah’s network of outreach centers, prison ministers and counselors—who “provide for basic human needs, advocate for the voiceless and empower others to foster a more just society,” the social ministry’s mission. 

 

Kinnis described her decision to apply for the job at Catholic Charities as “second nature,” not only because of her past employment experiences in social services but also because of an interest in helping others and volunteering derived from her Catholic upbringing.

 

“It goes back to the satisfaction that you're doing something and that you're giving back to the community, of being able to just help someone under a situation,” Kinnis said of why she enjoys working in social services. “Situations, they vary: They definitely vary from giving someone the right resource of where to go or listening to someone who just wants to vent with you but really it’s the main satisfaction of just being able to say ‘hey I'm caring for you because I care.’”

 

One of the ways that Kinnis wants to show the various different diocesan communities—including those who speak Spanish— that she cares is by being an advocate for diocese’s individual outreach centers.

 

She said that she plans to visit each one of them and work with their directors one-on-one to see what makes each center unique and how staff at each center can better develop personally and professionally.

 

But at the same time, she also hopes to help each center more clearly understand its role as part of the larger Catholic Charities of South Georgia organization.

 

“There’s a big range of area that needs to be covered, and so one of my goals is to bring everyone together so that we are in sync with the same outcomes of what we’re trying to provide for the community,” she said, also acknowledging that not every center can or needs to provide the exact same services.

 

Kinnis says that she intends to equip technology—for example using web cams to host online meetings— in order to bridge the geographic gap between the 12 different outreach centers spread throughout the diocese.

 

And though one of the last novels she read—“The Store” by James Patterson—suggests that the future will be fraught with privacy issues because of technology’s increased ability to watch and monitor its users, Kinnis recognizes that in her role, technology may help with efficiency but won’t ever replace the importance of the human heart. It won’t replace “that warm feeling of being able to help out” at a soup kitchen or when helping the homeless to get back on their feet.

 

"It's so easy to be able to use technology for (the) advantage of convenience and being able to manage certain things,” she said.  “But at the same time the phone is not going to be able to tell that person how much you love them or how much you're actually caring or that you want to do that soft, emotional part—having that empathy towards others—that’s something that to me technology can't do for anybody.”

 

Kinnis emphasized that above all, she is here to listen and help and encourages people to send an email, pick up the phone or even visit her.
“I have that open door policy that anybody that comes here to ask for help—I’ll be here to help,” she said. “If I can’t, at that moment I mean, (I will) definitely refer them to the right office or person.”
 

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