New York, NY, April 24, 2013: Dr. Lorraine E. Hale, co-founder of Hale House Center, Inc., died Sunday, April 21 in New York City. She was 86. According to her family, Dr. Hale died from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. She was born in Philadelphia, PA on May 21, 1926 to Thomas and Clara Jane McBride Hale. The family later moved to Harlem.
Dr. Hale and her mother, affectionately known as “Mother” Hale, founded Hale House in 1969. It was the first nonprofit agency in the nation dedicated exclusively to the care of children born to drug-addicted mothers. Hale House cared for more than 1,000 children born addicted to heroin, methadone, cocaine, alcohol, crack cocaine and other substances. Parents were allowed to have their children cared for at Hale House contingent upon their enrollment in rehabilitation programs. Close to 90 percent of the children cared for at Hale House were ultimately reunited with their families, a strategic, long-term goal of the Hales which was a foundation of their mission.
In recent years the Hales’ work was expanded to include a housing and education program for recovering addicted mothers and their children, a respite facility for mothers and babies suffering from Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) or infected with the related human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and an apprenticeship program that brought together troubled youngsters and adult mentors from within the community.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s when Hale House was formed, little information was available about the physical and psychological effects heroin, alcohol, and other drugs had on an unborn child. Even medical experts were reluctant tp accept the idea that babies could be born addicted to drugs. “We were definitely a first,” Dr. Hale asserted. “No one had gone before us to show how it was done.” Yet, in caring for the suffering children and by extension, their families, Mother Hale always said that there was one ingredient of which they had plenty–that was love.
Early in the operation of Hale House, Dr. Hale recognized the need for diagnostic and remedial programs that would help the high-risk children develop the cognitive and social skills they needed to grow and thrive. A psychologist, an occupational therapist, a nutritionist and a speech pathologist were employed to provide professional care and assessment, and both staff and volunteers were trained in methods to teach the children manners and social skills. Three chiropractors were added to the staff to massage the children to help stimulate their healthy growth and development.
Both Dr. Hale and her mother were passionate about education and human service. “My heart’s desire has been, and always will be, to see pregnant women stop taking drugs …the eradication of venereal diseases… and a cure found for AIDS. Hale House must continue to help the innocent victims of these life-threatening forces. As long as there are babies in need of love and care, Hale House must be here to meet their needs.”
Dr. Hale received many accolades for her pioneering work including a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition; The Children’s Defense Fund Award, and the prestigious Frontrunner Award in the Humanities from the Sara Lee Corporation. No one was more proud than Dr. Hale when her mother was invited by President Ronald Reagan to the House chamber to be recognized as “an American hero” during his January 1985 State of the Union address.
Dr. Hale received a B.A. from Long Island University and an M.S. from City College of New York, her father’s alma mater. She completed post-secondary work at The Bank Street College of Education and earned a certificate in African history from The University of Ghana. She later earned a Ph.D. from Western University and an Ed.D. from New York University. She began her career as an assistant teacher at the Church of All Nations School. She later joined the New York City Public School System as a teacher, guidance counselor, and school psychologist. In 1969 she co-founded Hale House Center for the Promotion of Human Potential, Inc., and served as executive director until 1989, when she was named president and chief executive officer.
Throughout her academic career Dr. Hale also served as an adjunct professor at City University of New York, Bronx Community College, The College of New Rochelle, and The College for Human Services. She was also a member of the advisory council of the New York Division of Substance Abuse Services, and of the board of directors of both the Harlem Urban Development Corporation and the Joint Institutional Review Board.
“Rae,” as she was known affectionately by her family, along with her Mother, is remembered a beacon of class, grace, dignity and love. “These two women blazed a swath through Harlem, New York, the United States and the world, placing them in the company of many great women of our time,” the family noted.
Dr. Hale is survived by her loving family of sisters, cousins, nieces and nephews and numerous foster children, adoptive families and children, and a host of friends and extended family. She will be mourned by the many generations of Harlem residents whose lives she touched as well as millions of New Yorkers, Americans and the citizens of the world who care about the welfare of children. A memorial service will be held at a later date.