WAITE PARK -- A local organization designed to help women who have been trafficked for sex continues to grow and strengthen their operations.

Terebinth Refuge began operations in 2018 when they opened a shelter in a vacant city-owned house in Waite Park.

Executive Director CeCe Terlouw says through community collaboration over the years the house has gone from a two-bedroom to a ten-bedroom shelter that has helped nearly 200 women move on to lives of health, stability, and independence.

She says back in April they were excited to learn the house they were using was bought from the city by a generous donor who agreed to lease it back to Terebinth for free.

To have the city approach Martin Marietta and talk to them about not just buying the house but asking if they would give the same rent free deal, we are so thankful the city did this for use and that Martin Marietta continued to allow us to be in that home.

Waite Park Police Chief Dave Bentrud serves on the Terebinth board of directors. He says this is a prime example of what a strong public/private partnership can do in a community.

When they stepped up to purchase the home from the city and lease it back to Terebinth it really created a win-win scenario.

Terlouw says in addition to the home, they also had someone donate their home-based business making personal care items like soaps and deodorants.

I've always planned to have some sort of social-enterprise for the women, which would be an extension to our employment readiness programming. We have give the women the opportunity to practice the skills of being a good employee and after some time in that program help them build a resume.

Terlouw says they hope to take over the business and begin selling the products by the first of the year.

She says the plan would be to hire the women in the shelter program so they could make some money and get the necessary employments skills needed to get a job.

Terlouw says they are so grateful for the commitment the community has shown to the organization over the last two years.

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