THE ROSE HOME'S FIRST GRADUATION
The first participant to join The Rose Home just graduated on February 4! We’re so proud of how far she’s come since joining us in October of 2017 at the grand opening of The Rose Home. She had been trafficked for years and lived a life of physical abuse and substance abuse. Now, she has an apartment to move into in a transition to independent living!
We're so proud of our first official graduate!
She loves to cook, and when she first arrived at The Rose Home, her dream was to become a chef. She cooked plenty of meals for everyone at The Rose Home, and she now works at a restaurant in the area. Recently, her goals have shifted. She now plans to become a substance abuse advocate and give to others the hope and support that she received at The Rose Home.
We showed her the donations that some of our supporters had given us for new graduates to use, and she picked out items to bring to her new apartment. It didn't matter if she was handed an ice cream scoop or a vacuum cleaner—she said "Thank you!" every time.
One of our parting gifts to her was an orange rose ring.
Her graduation ceremony was an emotional night for many people. The coaches and staff at The Rose Home who lived with her, members of our Outreach team who first met her, members of law enforcement who supported her, the judge who guided her through heroin court, and other friends gathered to celebrate.
Some of the most striking words came from the graduate herself. The Coaching Coordinator from The Rose Home read from a letter that the survivor had written to herself:
"You are a stronger survivor than you know. You're powerful. You're beautiful. You are a gift to other girls when they come to The Rose Home. I love you. -The New Me."
We plan on staying in contact with this strong lady after she leaves The Rose Home. She will continue to go to NA meetings and continue with our outreach group for survivors in the community. Of course, she will remain welcome to meet with our outreach staff at any time. We are happy for and proud of this strong, empowered, free woman!
JUSTICE FOR A SURVIVOR
One of the participants at The Rose Home testified against her trafficker in court. It was a difficult experience because she had to relive the trauma that he had inflicted upon her in a public, formal setting. In the end, it was worth it; the trafficker was convicted of three counts of human trafficking—one for every survivor who testified against him.
On the way to the first day of court, the Rose Home participant told Dawn, our Outreach Coordinator, about the trafficker. From the way she talked about him, Dawn pictured a large, intimidating, terrifying man. When they got to court, though, she saw that the survivor was actually taller than her trafficker. It was clear that despite his size, the trafficker had loomed over the participant’s life and controlled it in every way—and the mental effect on the participant was so strong that she was still very nervous.
Trauma is often very sensory-based, so trafficking survivors can be very sensitive to physical touch. For this survivor, her anxiety often showed itself through fidgeting. Dawn knew this, and she gave the participant a weighted coin which she had received for presenting a training program to law enforcement officers. The coin helped meet the participant’s sensory needs; it grounded her to reality and the reason she was testifying.
The coin that calmed a survivor's nerves so she could testify against her trafficker.
She felt less anxious, and she remembered that she has a whole team behind her: the coaches at The Rose Home, the prosecuting District Attorney, and the investigator who helped her.
The participant felt empowered to know that now she has police friends—caring members of law enforcement who check in at The Rose Home when they’re off the clock, just to make sure everything’s okay. The coin reminded her that she had a team to protect her, support her, and keep her safe.
Every morning on the way to court, the participant would ask Dawn, “Did you bring my coin?” The answer was always, “Yes, I have your coin.” The participant knew that meant, “I believe you. I’m here to support you. You are not alone.”
She was not alone in testifying, either. Two other survivors told their stories about how the same trafficker had manipulated, controlled, abused, and trafficked them.
These three survivors can never go back to a time before they were trafficked.
On the day of the closing arguments, the participant was so nervous that when she got the coin, something didn’t feel right. “It’s not cold enough,” she said. Dawn didn’t question why the coin had to be cold. She just found a way to make it happen. She ran the coin under cold water, then gave it back to the participant, who said, “Thank you, this is exactly what I need.”
As the closing arguments lasted for two hours, the participant held on tight to the cold coin.
Later, when Dawn and the survivor went to hear the verdict, the participant asked for the coin to be cold again. She held on tight as they waited for the jury. In the end, the 39-year-old man was convicted of trafficking and sentenced to 60 years in prison followed by 30 years on extended supervision.
These three survivors can never go back to a time before they were trafficked. But they can now move forward and continue their journey of healing knowing that their trafficker cannot touch them.
Despite the snow and cold, the ladies at The Rose Home have already started to think about spring. With a group of volunteers with Lead @ Aurora, they've started to get ready for this year's garden. The volunteers purchased the garden supplies and helped the girls plant vegetable and flower seeds in starter containers. We'll be thinking of them when we harvest the fresh produce and enjoy the bright flowers!
Dori providing emotional support to a survivor at The Rose Home.
AT THE ROSE HOME
Our newest participant is settling into The Rose Home nicely and getting used to the routine. She went to her first NA meeting and found a sponsor right away, which almost never happens! Our wonderful coaches at The Rose Home are helping her address medical concerns that she’s had to put off for years, including getting in control of her mental health.
Dori had to be taken to the doggy ER this month. One of the participants took care to comfort her the entire time and talked with the doctor about Dori’s eating regimen. Even with her incredible therapy dog superpowers, Dori is still a dog, so she sometimes eats things she’s not supposed to. Not to worry—Dori is now on medication and doing much better.
A huge January snowfall at The Rose Home.
The ladies at The Rose Home are keeping busy with indoor activities during this cold, snowy January. From cooking up lasagna to crafting stress balls, they’re finding ways to stay busy and cozy. Movie nights are popular, either going out to the theater or staying in with popcorn and pajamas at home.
BECOME A FREEDOM PARTNER
Are you as inspired by survivors as we are? Do you want to do your part and help them on their journey to freedom? Now it’s easier than ever! Join 500 for Freedom and lend a hand to the survivors in your community. Your monthly gift will help a survivor get back on her feet—because nobody should be forced into a life of trafficking.