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In Remembrance of Mary Crutchfield, a "Founding Mother" of Hopeline

One of Hopeline's "Founding Mothers," Mary Craig Crutchfield, passed away in February of 2024 at the age of 82. She will long be remembered for her dedication to the community. Hopeline's first Executive Director, Patricia Youngblood, shared the following tribute to Mary's work with our agency.

"In the early 1980’s, several local women were invited to a meeting in Raleigh prompted by state concerns surrounding violence and abuse. This special meeting was designed to raise awareness regarding the previously hidden issue of domestic violence in North Carolina. Content included a challenge for attendees to return to their communities filled with newly generated determination and hope for change in levels of violence. Although admittedly, in the Albemarle region, no one knew the exact extent of the problem, these forward-thinking women were informed and believed that a problem definitely existed, and that it was possibly greater than anyone suspected.

In our multi-county area, supported by this initial state information, participants took action, held meetings in their homes, explored “the problem” locally and attempted to determine ways to affect change among an atmosphere of denial. These women were courageous pioneers forever to be known as the “mothers of Albemarle Hopeline,” at birth known as the Pasquotank, Camden, Currituck Task Force on Crimes Against Women.

Among these “founding mothers” was local, national, and international artist Mary Crutchfield. Progressive, strong, supportive and talented, Mary was there at the beginning and there throughout agency history, helping to fill the need for highly intelligent, determined change-makers. She supported Hopeline in so many ways- sometimes with ideas, direction, her presence, talent, contacts, resources and more. When Hopeline struggled with local opposition, Mary stood tall. When Hopeline acquired a new shelter, Mary made important contacts, and donated some of her personal art to help make the new location a “real home” for those who had none. When Hopeline was establishing an advisory board, Mary was one of the first to commit. And when private one-on-one bits of advice were needed, Mary was always willing to provide knowledge, understanding and support. Mary truly made a difference in Hopeline’s history and in the lives of countless victims of violence and abuse. She never required even a thank you in return, but her imprint is and always will be on the lives that were saved and on the progressive history of violence and abuse in our collective community."

-          Patricia Youngblood, Executive Director of Albemarle Hopeline, 1983 – 2015

Albemarle Hopeline has grown and expanded from a grassroots organization of dedicated volunteers to one of the largest victims' services agencies in the state of North Carolina, assisting survivors of domestic and sexual violence in six counties. Services now include a 24-hour crisis hotline staffed by highly trained advocates; a 9-bedroom emergency shelter for victims and their children who are fleeing dangerous situations; and a myriad of supportive services such as therapy, support groups, legal advocacy, financial support, and much more. All services are free of charge to victims.
The path was not always easy- our founders experienced pushback, discrimination, and many citizens who did not welcome a domestic violence shelter into the community initially. But through their advocacy efforts, Hopeline  gained trust and support, and through outreach and education the need for our services was demonstrated. We will forever be thankful for the Board members, volunteers, prior staff members, and community supporters who helped pave the way for such tremendous growth. Mary’s legacy lives on through the countless lives touched by Hopeline through its 42 year history.
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