by Dennis Dalman
The second free annual “Rise” benefit breakfast for the Terebinth Refuge program will take place from 7:30-9:30 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 12, in downtown St. Cloud.
The breakfast venue is Regency Plaza, 912 St. Germain St., with free parking in the St. Mary’s parking lot in back. The breakfast is free, but registration is required. To register, visit www.terebinthreguge.org/rise.
Terebinth Refuge is a Christ-centered, nonprofit program that provides safe transitional housing, programs and services for survivors of sexual exploitation and trafficking in Central Minnesota, as well as for their young children. The fundraiser will help cover operational costs for the 10-bed emergency shelter home in Waite Park.
The Sept. 12 breakfast fundraiser will feature up-to-date information about the sex-trafficking crisis, Terebinth Refuge’s help programs, an auction and entertainment provided by L’Unica String Quartet (four St. Cloud women musicians) and Amber Siler and her band. The keynote speaker will be CeCe Terlouw, founder and director of Terebinth Refuge.
The greater St. Cloud area is the second most serious place in the state (after the Twin Cities) for the exploitation and sex-trafficking of women, according to CeCe Terlow, founder and director of Terebinth Refuge. Terlouw will be the keynote speaker at the breakfast event.
“Most victims of exploitation and trafficking who are 18 and older have been trafficked since childhood,” Terlouw said. “Their complete brokenness requires very unique and specialized care to heal . . . By providing these women a safe place to escape to, we are helping to put an end to the horrors of sex trafficking in central Minnesota.”
Terlouw said she is hoping Terebinth Refuge will be able to purchase a permanent shelter home. In the meantime, thanks to the city of Waite Park, a temporary home has been donated for the 10-bed shelter. The Waite Park Police Department, Terlouw said, was instrumental in working with the city to find a temporary house and has also been very supportive of the Terebinth Refuge and its mission.
Terlouw said the program will serve an estimated total of about 50 women and children this year by way of safe housing, education, trauma counseling, support services and employment training.
Terebinth Refuge, which opened in April 2018, is the only home of its kind in Central Minnesota. It has so far served 35 women and their small children and has responded to 227 crisis calls from women desperately needing help and a safe place to stay away from their traffickers and purchasers, Terlouw said.
The crime of sex trafficking has tragic long-term consequences for its victims, Terlouw said, including cycles of abuse, exploitation, poverty, homelessness and physical and mental trauma, powerlessness, loss of self-esteem, compounded by the fact traffickers often use drugs and threats as ways to keep their victims compliant.
“The women often feel powerless to seek help,” she said, “but there is hope.”
Many area businesses help sponsor Terebinth Refuge, and more sponsor opportunities are available. For more information, see www.terebinthrefuge.org.