04 Dec Small Program, Broad Impact
In the summer of 2018, a dream came to life. A modest little building on a hill in New Castle, Indiana opened its doors—offering sanctuary to victims of commercial and sexual exploitation (CSEC). TRU Harbor, as it’s known, is a program of the Youth Opportunity Center that no one could have known would have such a tremendous impact. The true splendor of its success though, has been just how far reaching its impact has been. Not only have the residents in this program benefitted, but so too have the communities of New Castle and over a dozen counties across the state.
TRU Harbor served 23 young women in its first year of operation from 16 counties throughout Indiana, and the need for these services isn’t decreasing.
“The demand throughout the state for our specialized services remains high,” said Dr. Katrina Mallory, Program Director of TRU Harbor. “We have seen demonstrable and meaningful changes in the lives of the girls we have served and that success will keep TRU Harbor in high demand.”
As one of the only facilities of its kind in Indiana, TRU Harbor’s presence positions Henry County as an epicenter for CSEC treatment—bringing positive exposure and great economic impact to the local economy. The facility brings 42 full- and part-time jobs to New Castle, contributing nearly $1 million to the economy in payroll alone.
The involvement of the local community has spurred a broader impact than anyone could have planned for. It takes a village to raise a child, and residential care is no different. As TRU serves girls recovering from and working through trauma, they are often met with many challenges beyond behavior management. Many residents lack a sense of self, a sense of worth, and have a deep history of mistrusting those who promised to love and care for them, but who were unable to follow through with that promise.
Support for the program has been unwavering from the start with over $60,000 in grants and in-kind donations received from individuals and organizations. From the donation of furniture to create a comfortable home-like environment to the donation of dresses for the residents to have a “Homecoming Dance,” the impact from the community has been substantial.
In the first year alone, TRU Harbor residents collectively earned 203 high school credits, participated in multiple college visits, prepared for and took the SATs and began completion of HSE programs. One resident, upon her graduation from the TRU Harbor program, is even now attending 4-year University on scholarship.
Couple this educational and economic impact with the significant behavioral, physical and psychological improvements experienced by residents, and it’s clear to see just how broad an impact this program is having.
“The goal of all YOC programs is to help kids heal and build the skills necessary to return to their communities and participate as productive, healthy residents,” said Rick Rowray, YOC CEO. “We couldn’t be more excited for the impact TRU Harbor is having not only on its residents, but also Henry County and other counties across the state. We look forward to what the next few years bring for TRU Harbor.”