As he sought an outlet for his feelings of loss, Charles Crittenton was moved by the plight of these women and their children, and ultimately found a new purpose in life. Ever the practical man, Crittenton felt that, preach as you may, providing practical solutions to these women would also impact their lives, and possibly save their young children from a similar fate. A pioneer and social entrepreneur well ahead of his time, he dedicated his energy and his finances toward the “betterment of this needy class.” The “needy class” he spoke of consisted of girls and women being exploited for sex, escaping violent relationships, single mothers, homeless/abandoned girls, immigrant women who came to this country alone, and all girls and women forced into “unsavory” circumstances.
Galvanized to action, Crittenton purchased a home on Bleecker Street in New York City, opening the Florence Crittenton Night Mission in 1883. Providing a safe haven for young women, the Crittenton Mission was so successful that Charles Crittenton was approached by other cities to help them recreate similar shelters in their area. Long before the term “evidence-based practice” was coined, Charles Crittenton and co-founder Dr. Kate Waller Barrett began a social welfare movement founded in social justice and a commitment to the rights of women.