Florence Crittenton Services of North Carolina was founded in 1903, celebrating our 110th Anniversary this year, 2013.
Back in 1901, a Charlotte newspaper article reported an alarming reaction to a distraught 16-year old single, pregnant girl from Charlotte who committed suicide by swallowing ground glass. Rather than face the shame and disgrace that she felt she would bring upon herself and her family, she ended her life. Religious leaders and concerned citizens throughout North Carolina joined forces, determined to provide a safe place and understanding, rather than condemnation, for single pregnant women.
Charles Crittenton had come to Charlotte in January 1903 to give a series of public addresses at a local Methodist church. His speeches were heard by large crowds and reported on every day in the Charlotte Observer. (As seen on the left.) Through donated funds by Mr. Crittenton, Florence Crittenton Services of North Carolina was established.
On the day that Mr. Crittenton’s series of meetings ended, a local lawyer offered his family house as the site for the home, but his neighbors objected. A charter was later obtained from the legislature, but a Lutheran women’s college objected to having the second proposed site near its grounds. An official site was finally chosen in January 1904. (As seen below.)
Since 1903, our facility has served over 40,000 mothers, babies and their families. Still holding true to our maternity efforts, we have also incorporated several additional programs including: a mother-child program for adolescents in the custody of the Department of Social Services (DSS), an independent living/preventative program for non-pregnant girls ages 16-21 in the custody of DSS, an after-care program for maternity clients, and a vocational/educational program.
A current resident living in our mother-child program for foster care girls states that had she not been at FCS, she would be living with her 72-year old grandmother and struggling, as her sister did. She stated, “FCS is strict, encouraging, emotional, educational, and exhausting, but it has allowed me to realize that I am a strong, determined, and smart individual. I have learned things here I never would have on my own.”
A current Board of Directors member holds a personal connection to the mission at Florence Crittenton – “I grew up with a loving and supportive family. As a child, I assumed everyone else had what I took for granted: unconditional love from my parents. Then when I was a teenager, the younger sister of a good friend of mine discovered that she was pregnant. Because she was so fearful of what her parents would say or do to her when they learned the truth, and knowing of no other place to turn, she chose to take her own life. Her story has stayed with me ever since then. I recently joined the Board of Directors of FCS in order to help teenage girls and young women who are struggling with the issues that my friend’s sister found too overwhelming to contend with.”
Even after 110 years, the story that prompted the establishment of Florence Crittenton Services of North Carolina still resonates today in stories like the one above. In sharing our 110th year anniversary with the National Crittenton Foundation’s 130th anniversary, we can see the difference that has been made in the past and can see we still have a future to affect the lives of many more women to come.
-Written by Sydney Crouch