Home turns 100 years old
By Tim Leeds
On June 12, the Florence Crittenton Home & Services in Helena celebrated 100 years of providing hope to Montana's young pregnant and parenting women.
The home, a private, non-profit, 24-hour residential facility and Montana's only licensed maternity home, opened in Helena on June 12, 1900, dedicated to the "care and rehabilitation of unwed mothers."
The Helena Crittenton Home, a United Way affiliate, has provided shelter and care to thousands of young women from Montana over the past century. Social standing has ranged from homeless to wealthy to veterans' wives needing help while their husbands recovered in military hospitals; the only requirement for admission was being in need. Teens from all over the state come to use the home's services.
New York City druggist and millionaire Charles Crittenton made it his mission to help "fallen" and "dissipated" girls and young women after his daughter, Florence, died of scarlet fever in the late 1800s. Through the intervention of Crittenton, girls all over the country have used the services of the Florence Crittenton Homes.
Since its opening in Helena, the Crittenton Home has occupied five different spaces. The current residence was built specifically for Crittenton in 1995. Crittenton houses two treatment programs, a residential maternity home and a therapeutic group home.
The average stay of a student is six to nine months and during that time time they learn life skills, prenatal care, parenting skills and are required to continue to work toward their high school degree. During the summer, students gain job skills by volunteering or seeking employment.
Residents at Crittenton receive therapy, counseling, educational opportunities, chemical dependency treatment and life skills training. Pregnant and parenting teens participate in prenatal and parenting classes. Crittenton also provides help learning to find and maintain a job, along with recreational and cultural outings. Many classes are offered through community resources such as AA and St. Peters Hospital.
In 1998, Crittenton opened an additional program to young women, ages 12 to 18, considered at risk. Some of these young women have made a healthy decision to place their babies in a loving adoptive home and try to deal with their own lives. In the past, they could not remain at Crittenton. Now, they can continue to receive the help they need. Other students in this program simply need a safe place to live. At the home, they receive the counseling and therapy they need as they continue their education.
Funds donated to Crittenton go a long way to provide help. Referral fees received cover only 80 percent of the cost of keeping a girl at Crittenton. Many programs, such as recreational therapy and cultural outings would not be possible without the help of Montana's generous citizens. Additional funds could be used to provide scholarships for students who need Crittenton's services but do not qualify for funding. In addition to regular giving programs, Crittenton has also established an endowment fund to ensure its future.
Special fund raising events are planned throughout the year to help Crittenton with the rising cost of providing care.
For more information about the home's services and events, or how to volunteer time or donate cash or in-kind materials to the home, contact the Florence Crittenton Home, 901 North Harris, Helena, MT 59601, (406) 442-6950, fax (406) 442-6571; or visit their web page at www.florencecrittenton.org.