A young wife and mother opens the front door of the parsonage on a cold an snowy night. On her porch stands another young mother, grieving over her desperate state, especially for the sake of her baby. The pastor's wife invites her in and listens to her story of a girl deserted by her child's father and likely thrown out of her parents' home, because of being unwed. This situation forever changed the life of her hostess, Kate Waller Barrett.
As I did research on homes for unwed mothers in the Detroit area, while writing Rumors and Promises and found (by Divine guidance I’m sure!) the Florence Crittenton Mission, I also learned about a unique Christian woman ahead of her time, Dr. Kate Waller Barrett. Brought up in the south, the eldest of eight daughters in a wealthy family, Kate Waller had aspirations of helping those less fortunate.
|Dr. Kate Waller Barrett|
She married a minister by the name of Reverend Robert South Barrett, moved with him to Georgia, and aided him in his work. Soon her heart became tender toward a specific group. After having borne her first child, son Robert, Kate was faced with an impoverished young mother on her front doorstep, desperate for help. The girl told a story of being deserted by a man who had promised to marry her.
|Aquia Church in Stafford, VA. This was where Reverend Barrett's|
first and last assignments were. Kate Waller Barrett and her
husband were buried in the cemetery here.
|Doorway to Florence Crittenton Home in Charleston, SC.|
As their superintendent, Kate Waller Barrett wrote a manual for establishing a standard for The National Florence Crittenton Mission rescue homes. This manual gave instructions for order, how to set the homes up, and how to run them. She also made inroads to more positive racial relations and established Florence Crittenton homes for African American women as well. Unfortunately, due to Jim Crow laws, these homes were separate rather than integrated, but for the times, her outreach can be considered a step against racism.
|Headline on Rockefeller's combatting human trafficking|
from a San Francisco paper.
In her concern she influenced philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, in the making of the film, Traffic in Souls. Such films helped publicize the cause of human trafficking across the United States. She also advocated for the way young women were treated in custody. She traveled to Europe, studying and giving recommendations on women's immigration issues between 1914 and 1919. She was even one of only ten women to attend the Versailles Conference in 1919!
|Poster for the sensationalized movie.|
The seeds she planted, along with Charles Crittenton, to minister to at-risk girls and young women, showing compassion rather than judgment, and giving them a chance to flourish, continues today through the work of The National Crittenton Foundation. In taking many steps of faith to minister to those less fortunate Dr. Kate Waller Barrett has left a rich legacy of care and kindness toward those less fortunate. In the scope of her roles, work, and influence, she was truly a woman ahead of her time!
Kathleen Rouser has loved making up stories since she was a little girl and wanted to be a writer before she could even read. She desires to create characters who resonate with readers and realize the need for a transforming Savior in their everyday lives. She is a long time member in good standing of ACFW and a former board member of its Great Lakes Chapter. Kathleen has been published in anthologies, including the Amazon bestseller, Christmas Treasures, as well as in both print and online magazines. Her debut full-length novel, Rumors and Promises, was recently published by Heritage Beacon Fiction in April, 2016.
Previously a home-school mom of three, she has more recently been a college student and sometimes a mild-mannered dental assistant by day. Along with her sassy tail-less cat, she lives in Michigan with her hero and husband of 34 years, who not only listens to her stories, but also cooks for her. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.