For 130 years, Florence Crittenton organizations in the United States have assisted milions young women and their families become more independent, fulfilled and productive members of our communitities. For most of decades of its existence the organization has maintained a profile out of the limelight in its helping role but in the last few years, a concerted effort has been made to not only advocate for the needs of marginalized young women but to the aide them in advocating for themselves. The young women are activley taking the initiative to give legislators and the community at large a greater undertanding of their strengths and the trememdous potential they possess. Significant efforts are being made to break the cycles of poverty, ineffective parenting, abuse and neglect that majority of these young women have faced.
As a former client and now Board Member, I have seen the Crittenton agencies & The National Crittenton Foundation from many perspectives. Once a client, I will always appreciate that there was a place for my son & me to live while trying to bridge the gap between a difficult family environment and the independence I knew I was capable of achieving. As a Board Member for National Crittenton, we continue to support our family of agencies & be the national voice of so many young women trying to break the cycle of negative family patterns.
When I count my blessings, Crittenton is at the top of them. Crittenton has enriched my life on so many levels over the past 20 years. At 16, along with my my two-year old son, I moved into the Southern California-based Crittenton home. My stay at Crittenton served as a pivotal point of change for the better in my life & the life of my son. Growing up in a household filled with constant fighting, verbal & physical abuse, I had visions of a different life for us. Thankfully, there was a place for both my child & I to stay during a time of many transitions. Thanks to the program structure & caring staff members, I was able to save enough money to move into my own apartment at the young age of 18. The feeling of being able to provide for myself & son was so empowering! I went on to earn a bachelor's degree from CSU, Fullerton. I am forever grateful for the concrete foundation Crittenton offered for me to be successful in life. Now, I am a member of the Board of Trustees for The National Crittenton Foundation. They have opened up so many doors for me to give back & help empower other young women. The staff members at The National Crittenton Foundation are top-notch & committed to making a difference for young women everywhere.
I've seen tremendous growth and scalability of The National Crittenton Foundation's impact over the past three and a half years that I've been on the board. I've met with girls and women who have benefitted from programs and funding generated by the Foundation, including advocacy on Capitol Hill, social media campaigns, initiatives to measure the impact of services delivered, and more. I'm looking forward to giving more of my time in the future to help The National Crittenton Foundation ensure that all girls, young women and their families live safely in a just world in which they can visualize and achieve their unique potential as healthy, contributing members of society.
Initially I was a Board member of the Southern California Crittenton Agency in Fullerton, California from 1991-1996. I then joined The National Crittenton Foundation in 2001 and I am presently the Treasurer. I have also rejoined the Fullerton Agency Board in 2009. In this time I have had the priviledge of visiting 14 of the 27 Agencies. What keeps me coming back is the change in the look in the young ladies eyes. When they first arrive they are scared and in survivor mode. After a time the look becomes trusting and full of hope. Not only do they gain self esteem, many continue their education into college, and they become valuable members of our society.
My name is Catherine Kamara. I was born in Sierra Leone, West Africa and was raised in Maryland/ DC. My journey with The Crittenton Foundation started in Feburary 2007, I was seventeen at the time and my newborn was five days old. The thought of my son and I being in custody did not settle too well with me at first. The day my son and I entered the doors of Florence Crittenton Services in Charlotte, North Carolina I was reassured immediately that this was a safe environment for us. I have lost both of my parents at a very young age and the only person I had trust in just gave me up for custody, so you can say I had little to no trust or faith left in anyone else. It took a lot for me to start trusting others but the staff at Florence Crittenton Services made it easier for me to start trusting again. Florence Crittenton Services was the first place my son called home and it was the first place since my parents died that I actually felt safe in, meaning not having to worry about my next meal, how the bills were going to get paid, or who will give me that boost of positivity when I felt like giving up in life. I have been out of foster care for about three years now and to this day I still continue to stay in contact with my FCS family. The National Crittenton Foundation has opened up doors for me no one else has. I have met some beautiful inspiring smart women that have walked in the same shoes that I have, as in having family members that abused them, not having the right resouces to help them, and being a single teenage mother. I can truely say these ladies are the big sisters that I've always wanted as a kid and I'm grateful to have met them in my adult life. When I'm with them I feel like I can speak about anything that's troubling me in life and not get judged by it. The last thing I need is to have someone judging my every footstep. With these ladies I have learned that it is ok to make mistakes and get right back up and correct them. They say God places certain people in your life for a reason, and I truels believe this. I really appreciate the ladies of TNCF for entering my life when I most needed someone.