By Emma Castleberry
Carolina Resource Center for Eating Disorders (CRC for ED) began in 2004 as T.H.E. Center for Disordered Eating. What started as a volunteer task force committed to eating disorder recovery support has grown into a 501(c)3 nonprofit that serves multiple counties in Western North Carolina with a board, staff, committees and licensed support group facilitators, as well as a network of clinicians, treatment center partners, corporate sponsors and a growing community of volunteers and donors. “While much of our impact is in WNC, our reach often extends through and beyond North Carolina,” says executive director Simone Seitz. “CRC for ED is the only nonprofit advocate in our state committed to the fight against eating disorders and to providing a safe space, community and free services for those who are affected.”
Seitz says that most people are highly likely to know someone who is affected by this struggle. “Eating disorders are not a choice—they are 50 to 80 percent genetically based,” she says. “They do not discriminate between age, gender, race, class, sexual orientation or ethnic group, and you cannot tell if someone is struggling with disordered eating or an eating disorder on the basis of appearance. With awareness, we can all help people with disordered eating behaviors live more freely and help prevent full-blown eating disorders.”
One way CRC for ED provides this support is through educational programming that includes community outreach and professional development. “We present to schools, community groups, professional and clinical associations, wellness and fitness programs, healthcare practices and social service agencies about how to aid in prevention and what resources are available,” says Seitz. In February, the National Eating Disorders Association hosts NEDAwareness Week. In culmination of its events during this week, CRC for ED hosts the HEAL Conference: a full day of networking and presentations on cutting-edge approaches to disordered eating and recovery.
While the organization places a heavy emphasis on education and prevention, it also provides a free helpline, support groups and other resources to those already struggling with disordered eating. “While it is vital to bring awareness about eating, exercise and body image issues in an effort to get on the front end of this illness, it is also so important to provide access to support for those impacted,” says Seitz.
Dr. Martine Jones joined the CRC for ED professional member network a year and a half ago. As a professional, Jones says the networking support with other clinicians and the trainings provided by the organization have been highly valuable. “I think that people who struggle with eating disorders often feel isolated and lost, and they don’t know where to start when they are finally ready to get support,” she says. “CRC for ED enables them to go to one organization and get all of their questions answered. They can find local and national support all in one place, and they know that they will be talking to people who have compassion for their struggle.”
A person in recovery, who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity, started attending CRC for ED support groups while she was in intensive outpatient treatment for her eating disorder. She also volunteers with the organization and attends conferences and events. “They not only give direct support to those suffering from eating disorders, but also to those impacted in other ways such as family members, friends and professionals,” she says. “CRC for ED is concerned with supporting all those affected by eating disorders and gives what is often the first glimmer of hope for recovery.”