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117 Stories

Florence Crittenton Reflection

My time at Florence Crittenton Services has been so short but so rich. With zero experience working at a nonprofit like this, I was not sure what to expect. I knew my role at Caldwell Presbyterian Church was a “social justice” intern, but I had no idea how that would play out in my daily tasks at my work placement. I certainly didn’t anticipate helping write a grant, volunteering with clients at other service organizations, o r leading a staff training session. Over the last several weeks, however, I observed how the struggle for social equity, the services offered at FCS, and my own background are all entwined. One of the first significant learning experiences happened when Sarah asked me to research the school zones around the new FCS location (since moving locations means clients may be students from a different neighborhood). This search led me to the maps of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district, and I was surprised by what I saw. The zones drawn in the district had shapes that didn’t make any sense. The zones had been gerrymandered and manipulated so much over the years that several of them snaked around corners or tapered off unexpectedly. This inspired me to learn more about racial and economic isolation in Mecklenburg county neighborhoods, and how individual school and neighborhood demographics are affected by this. I discussed the topic of racial and economic disparity in Charlotte when I led a staff straining at FCS on social justice near the end of the summer. I tried to make this experience interactive with the staff, while also pulling in new concepts that they were unfamiliar with. In this training I explained the difference between equality and equity through a hands-on scenario. The group also went over various “hidden rules” of class structures and how these rules affect the decisions each person makes. More than anything, I learned about healing at FCS. On one afternoon, I was paged to the cafeteria so that I could play an instrument in a therapeutic drum circle with visitors, staff, and clients. This required me to be vulnerable in front of strangers, which I did not love at first. As an introvert, I’m not one to frequent free-spirited percussion jams. I can say now that this experience was incredible! The beats of each instrument were soothing, in a peculiar way. All participants were in sync in their drumming – even if it got silly at times. I was so glad I got to join in; it was a creative avenue to release any emotions and restore connectedness within a group. One day, I sat on a clinical call in which a group of social workers and other staff sat around a table and went over a case study of one particular client. In discussing a plan for treating this client , I understood just how difficult and troubled this resident was. I could see how each person around the table was worn out with a full schedule. And yet, light broke through. These staff members were so exhausted from this client, but something happened that shifted the atmosphere of the room. When prompted by the expert on the other end of the call, each person at the table named something about this worrisome client that they genuinely liked or appreciated. In that moment I understood that despite every difficulty with the resident, these care providers recognized that she was strong and resilient and beautiful and loved. I felt it. I also felt that they had been called to this work by God. I am drawn to the work of chaplaincy/pastoral care in healthcare systems and trauma centers, so I tried to soak in as much of this as I could. Seeing trauma-responsive care in action has motivated me to learn more about that field of work; I was inspired. I look forward to finding a calling where I can bring as much to the table. In a place like Florence Crittenton, it is impossible to ignore these glaring inequities. It is also impossible to ignore the overwhelming acts of restorative justice (as opposed to acts of mere clarity) that take place there every day. It has been a privilege to observe how FCS partners with young women who have been mistreated and misunderstood, and empowers them to cultivate true agency in their lives.

Elea Forester Social Justice Intern July 2019

Thank you for all you’ve done to prepare me for motherhood. There are so many things, both physical and mental, that I came into the program not thinking I would be able to obtain. I can’t imagine what I would have done without. Thank you for turning a point in my life that I never thought I’d get through into one of the most memorable experiences that I’ve ever had. This pregnancy would have been impossible to get through without the help of Florence Crittenton Services.


I truly appreciate everything. I’m sure I would not have been able to do this successfully without you guys. Continue doing the wonderful walks. The Staff is amazingly friendly, kind, patient, helpful and knowledgeable. Special Thanks and Appreciation to the whole Applewood Staff. They were so encouraging and made my stay pleasing.


Dear FCS Staff,

I would like to thank everyone that has been a part of my journey here at Florence Crittenton. You guys have encouraged me and believed in me since the moment I came here at 6 months pregnant. You guys have been a blessing to my life in so many ways. You Guys have made Florence Crittenton feel like home. I didn’t know any other way of thank every single one of you guys so I wanted to write this letter. You Guys Will Be Truly Missed



In this special year of celebration of the 110th anniversary of Florence Crittenton Services (FCS), I pause to reflect on my 30 plus years with this amazing organization. I started employment as a social worker and for the past 14 years have been honored to serve as the CEO.

Prior to my employment with FCS, I worked with young single pregnant and parenting teens in another state. Throughout that experience I encountered so many situations where the young women were in need of safety, support and hope. When I first walked through the doors of FCS, I felt the homelike atmosphere and it is what I would have envisioned for the many young lives I had encountered. As I continued my work at FCS, I have been able to see first hand what a difference it makes when a young pregnant woman has support, a safe place to live, resources and most importantly, someone who believes in them and their potential to have a better life. I have seen this carried through from young women who were my clients who are now professional women contributing to our society and who
have raised remarkable children who are also leading productive lives. The Crittenton experience is life changing for two generations. The other remarkable aspect of FCS that I take pride in is the responsiveness to changing needs as exemplified in Sarah’s House and Legacy Hall programs for teens in the foster care system and now our focus on assisting clients in healing from trauma.

Throughout my journey, I have met incredible, resilient young people and many very dedicated and committed volunteers, donors and staff who work tirelessly everyday to help us meet the needs of clients. I remain grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the FCS legacy of promoting health and hope for tomorrow’s children and hope that others who read these stories will join with us and invest in the potential and future success of our youth.

In celebration of National Volunteer Week
Volunteers of
Florence Crittenton Services,
we appreciate you!

Because of your Love,
Because of your Caring,
Because of your Support,
your Heart,
and Time spent Sharing,
We Succeed,
we Shine,
we Strive.
We Overcome,
we Achieve,
we Thrive.
We Are, because of You!

Thank you, FCS Volunteers,
from the bottom of our hearts!

Having a job at Florence Crittenton is kinda awesome! You are given the opportunity to make a difference every day. Whether you are cooking the food, teaching a class, transporting the babies to childcare, or collecting donations, everything and everyone works together to help our clients be successful.

Last night one of our amazing relief staff went above and beyond and assisted our residents with a super fun craft. She bought and brought all of the supplies for the clients to paint and design picture frames for their baby’s photo’s. What a wonderful way for our mom’s-to-be to get excited about the new life about to enter the world. They loved every minute of the activity. Its nice to have the opportunity to specially design something for your child, and this wonderful employee made that possible. Not because she had to, but because she believes in our mission and helping the wonderful women who grace our presence every day! Thanks, Kamina!! You rock!


I know life isn’t easy
but who would have thought it would be this.
Sometimes it gets so overwhelming
I just feel like giving up.
But my pride won’t let me walk away,
and fear keeps me from getting ahead.
That’s when I compromise my options
to sit and do nothing instead.
That way there is no losing
because there is nothing for me to fight.
Yet those are the times I miss winning,
which I finally do get it right.

I know life isn’t easy
and sometimes
I’m glad its not.
Because victory is always sweeter
when the war is not easily fought.
Plus, who said that life was made up of pain
just to bring me down?
It’s when times get the hardest
That I refused to be pushed around.
And where would my strength be
if life had not prepared me for this day?
I’m stronger that I give myself credit for,
and despite the pain, I’ll be okay.

Poem written by former Florence Crittenton Resident.

If Fay Green were alive today she would want to tell you a story…she was a great story teller! Fay and her hubby Danny, were both actively involved with FCS for many years. For her devotion and dedication to FCS, Fay was awarded the Lucille P. Giles Award in 1999. She was co-chair of the FCS Auxiliary from 1989-1993. Together with her dear friend, Claire MacGregor, they established the FCS Auxiliary Scholarship Fund in the 1980s. A few weeks before she passed away, I was with her in Temple Beth-El’s library and as she turned the pages of her personal scrapbook, she recounted stories not only about her but about a culture that was changing because of her. I was deeply affected by the scope of her accomplishments as she volunteered in a myriad of ways throughout the Charlotte community. The photo, below, shows her standing tall in pink, smartly dressed, accessorized and coiffed, as this was her signature demeanor. The one you see here is of Fay enjoying an afternoon with the Auxiliary ladies, just one of many spanning 30 years! Fay was always snapping photos of others and relished giving them away. She loved decorating FCS for the holidays and took part in the annual plant sale. Whenever I see a hand knit cap with a pom pom on top, I think of Fay since she loved to knit them for the newborns to keep them toasty warm. Lovely submitted by Gene Ruth Poler.