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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.

When The Arbor opened its doors to 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.

If you are visiting our site and reading this, there’s a good chance it’s because:

  • You recognize that the need for professional, specialized aftercare services for survivors of human trafficking is an urgent and often overwhelming national and local issue.
  • You want to do something about meeting this need.
  • Through the giving of money, time and/or prayer, you helped The Arbor come to life as a pioneering effort in exposing and addressing this need here in Central Virginia.

For all of that, even though we’ve said it before: Thank you. That mission couldn’t have come to life without you.

The mission and identity of The Arbor is now evolving.  For those who have followed along with our rebooted newsletters since May, it was our hope to provide a good and growing understanding of the unique challenges and needs faced by a spearheading effort like The Arbor’s, while also providing a dynamic window into our daily work. It was those daily experiences this year, combined with our own growing understanding of our past, present and future challenges that lead to the core update we want to share with you today:

After an in-depth assessment of our operations and projected growth under our current mission, The Arbor Charlottesville has made the decision to cease providing long-term housing for survivors of human trafficking going forward.  We remain committed to providing shelter and services for our two remaining clients until their journey with The Arbor is complete this fall.***  

The first 20 months of programmatic operations for The Arbor showed us – and Charlottesville – a lot. Through these experiences and lessons learned, we were able to arrive at this decision with humility and determination this summer. So, what comes next if we are no longer going to be responsible for housing trafficking survivors ourselves?

Right now, leadership at The Arbor is actively mapping the most relevant, sustainable ways our organization and mission might evolve to continue meeting the needs of human trafficking survivors here. Whatever decisions get made in the weeks ahead, they will be rooted in best practices for both prospective clients and partnering with professionals in our community.

As our conversation and resources are guided forward, foremost in our minds and hearts will be the most effective ways to achieve healing and wholeness for those who have been exploited and traumatized. 

Thank you again. Your generosity and faith in this work helps make freedom real – and we hope you are as encouraged by that progress as we are, and continue to walk this journey with us. Stay tuned in the weeks ahead for updates on how we see our mission and organization evolving.

Gratefully, and onward,

The Board of Directors and Seth Wispelwey, Executive Director.

***The Arbor’s work continues this fall under its original mission.  As mentioned above, we remain committed to ensuring our current clients receive the housing, counseling, services and resources they need until our commitment to them is met and each is empowered to re-enter society confidently and ably.  This work with them will be complete at the end of November.  Your support in this very unique season will ensure we can meet those commitments to these two women in the most professional and supportive ways possible.

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Frequently Asked Questions

 

DOES CHARLOTTESVILLE NEED A SAFE HOUSE FOR SURVIVORS OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING?

Recent research has shown that human trafficking is present and on the rise in Virginia; however, there are very limited options for housing (less than 10 beds specifically for trafficking survivors available in the state of Virginia). Furthermore, I-81 and I-95 are two well known for trafficking activity and we believe that a central location is ideal to provide a safe community for women who have been trafficked in Virginia or neighboring states.

We also hope to enhance the rich and varied resources already present, such as the local Domestic Violence (DV) shelters. Most DV shelters are able to house survivors for only a short period of time, and many are currently at capacity serving women and men escaping abusive situations. By targeting the unique population of human trafficking survivors, The Arbor will allow DV shelters to focus their resources on their intended populations.

IS TRAFFICKING HAPPENING IN VIRGINIA?

The Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) and the Virginia Office of the Attorney General both acknowledge the presence of human trafficking in Virginia as well as current gaps in services for survivors. View the DCJS report.  This report indicates that human trafficking is likely on the rise in Virginia, and that the majority of victims are adult females. Sixty percent of victims identified by responders were Spanish-speakers. The most commonly identified needs for survivors were: basic needs (such as food and shelter), victim-specific services (i.e. sexual assault services), crisis and health services, and advocacy and legal services.

In 2012, The Arbor conducted a Needs Assessment that spanned Virginia, North Carolina, and Washington, DC. We interviewed 36 professionals, including police officers, nurses, hospital social workers, and crisis center advocates. Twenty-six of these professionals stated that human trafficking is a present in their geographic region. Thirteen stated either they or others at their represented organizations had personally encountered human trafficking victims. From their comments, we estimate about 45 individual survivors made contact with these 13 professionals. A variety of needs were expressed during interviews, including short and long-term housing, screening tools, human trafficking awareness education, counseling services, and culturally specific services.

WHAT OTHER ORGANIZATIONS ARE ALSO WORKING ON THIS ISSUE?

The Gray Haven offers services in Richmond, VA, to survivors of human trafficking.
Polaris Project serves Washington, DC, and provides a national hotline to report tips of suspected incidences of human trafficking.

      ***Community members who have a tip about a suspected incident of human trafficking are advised to report to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, 1-888-373-7888.
International Justice Mission (IJM) rescues and provides aftercare in foreign countries.
We hope to work collaboratively with other organizations as they form in the state.

WHAT SERVICES DO WE PROVIDE TO THE WOMEN WHO LIVE AT THE ARBOR?

Women who have survived human trafficking have a wide variety of individual needs and wants. Our goal is to support each resident on her own journey of healing and wholeness. Some of the services we offer through our organization and through partnerships include:

  • A secure, safe, and welcoming home. The duration of stay will be determined together by the resident and The Arbor case managers. We expect most residents will stay for approximately one year.
  • Meals and basic necessities will be provided for each resident when they first arrive. Over time, we will support residents as they begin to provide for themselves.
  • Health care, legal needs, and counseling.
  • Transportation
  • Education, ESL classes, and job training.
  • Community support, such as optional workshops and activities, 
mentorship with community volunteers, and faith resources (if requested).

 HOW CAN I DONATE TO THE ARBOR?

Checks may be made out to The Arbor Charlottesville and mailed to PO Box 4692, Charlottesville, VA 22905.
You may also donate online. (*note: when donating online, 4% goes to our service provider, Qgiv). All donations are tax-deductible.

Contact

We would love to hear from you!

For information, to volunteer, or to inquire about other ways that you can support our work, please send us an email.

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For referrals or to access our services, please call 434.922.0131 and leave a brief message. Our case management staff will return your call.

The Arbor does not provide short-term, crisis housing. If you require crisis housing or immediate assistance, please call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1.888.373.7888

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PO Box 4692

Charlottesville, VA 22905