CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - For nearly one hundred years, the Florence Crittenton house along 19 Margaret Street in downtown Charleston, has been a home to nearly eight thousand teenage girls.
The program is designed to offer solace and support to young women during teenage pregnancy. Referrals often come through a guidance counselor, or family friend, but young women can seek assistance themselves. Among the services offered are prenatal care, counseling, and academic support, with the condition that each girl is committed to following the rules of the program.
"Usually when they come here they're in crisis," said Executive Director Lisa Van Bergen. "They're not happy about being here."
It was a much different atmosphere Saturday afternoon, as the program welcomed success stories past and present, a testament to its century-old mission.
"Ninety-four percent of our girls finish high school, compared to 40 percent of teen moms in general," Van Bergen added.
Erica Moore, now a mother of four and board member of the Charleston center, said the program was just what she needed during a "very, very dark time."
"It's not about supporting teenage pregnancy, it's more about supporting the children, and giving the ladies a second chance and opportunity just to get themselves back on the right track," said Moore.
During the reunion, Florence Crittenton also unveiled a newly renovated backyard and garden. The near $40,000 project, the work of the Kiawah-Seabrook and Isle of Palms exchange clubs, along with twelve local businesses.
Program Executive Director Lisa Van Bergen said the center will also use the garden as an educational tool to teach nutrition.
"They can really get a lot, but the most important thing they get is the skills to be a good mother."