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About the Arbor

The Arbor is a nonprofit organization that provides long-term housing and holistic aftercare services to adult, female, human trafficking survivors in Virginia, so that they may establish a community of healing and reclaim wholeness, freedom, and life.


Charlottesville, Va. – The Arbor Charlottesville, Charlottesville’s first long-term shelter dedicated solely to services for human trafficking survivors, is closing after nearly two years of service.

When The Arbor officially opened its doors to adult female survivors of human trafficking in late 2014, it was with a stated mission to provide safe long-term housing, trauma-informed case management and counseling, and healing programming rooted in community.

In August of this year, The Arbor Charlottesville decided to cease providing long-term housing in the form of a safe house going forward. The Arbor maintained its housing and programmatic commitments to its two remaining clients, both of whom successfully completed their time with The Arbor this fall and are now living and working stably and independently.

Since August, The Arbor’s leadership and staff have been working to strategically map the most relevant, sustainable ways our organization might evolve to continue addressing human trafficking here in Central Virginia. The need and interest is certainly here.  However, we have concluded that The Arbor is not able to continue its mission.

In October, the board of directors unanimously voted to dissolve the organization’s 501(c)(3) status and suspend operations at the end of 2016. Both the August and October decisions were reached after much research, analysis and prayer.

There were many factors that led to this decision, including:

– The staff-to-client ratio required to provide long-term housing was unsustainable;

– The services required to appropriately meet the need require training and experience that is difficult to attract in this location;

– There is limited affordable housing available in Charlottesville for survivors upon leaving the program.

Providing holistic aftercare services to survivors of human trafficking is vitally needed work that requires deep investments of resources and professional involvement. There are few clinically appropriate and successful examples to emulate, and there are many well-intentioned efforts wrestling with how to begin or maintain this work professionally and sustainably.

Thanks to the giving of time, resources, money and prayer by many in the Charlottesville area and elsewhere, The Arbor was able to begin a pioneering effort here that worked these past two years to expose and address this need.

It is the hope of The Arbor Charlottesville that our labors and lessons learned, along with the successes of other organizations in this field, will help pave the way for future efforts in supporting survivors of human trafficking in the Charlottesville area.

Thank you again to those who walked this journey with us and invested in making freedom real for the two women we successfully graduated this year.  Thank you for believing and knowing that this work continues, by many different names, but with one common purpose.

After all remaining business is concluded in January 2017, The Arbor will be donating any remaining funds to Thistle Farms in Nashville, TN, a pioneering organization in this field that operates a residential program and provides advocacy services for women healing from prostitution, trafficking and addiction.

Gratefully, and for freedom,

The Board of Directors and Seth Wispelwey, Executive Director.