JOHNSON COUNTY, Kan. — A Johnson County nonprofit is helping women come out of prison to get a new start.
The G.R.O.W. program started in March of last year, and now it’s helping these women blossom as they build new lives.
Each day is a welcome home for Kellie Russel.
She recently moved into her first apartment after years of change. Russel was in prison for three years before becoming the first graduate of the G.R.O.W. program, Grace Restores Overcoming Women. It’s a transitional home that helps residents learn to live again.
“It feels great. It really does,” Russel said. “I think it really makes me see that my past was a total wreck, and I don’t want to go back to that way of living.”
She spent nearly two years in the program and is now living on her own.
“I did this, and I did it with the help from people with GROW, and I did it because I wanted to do it, and I had my mind made up that that’s what I was going to do,” Russel said.
Russel’s story shows the other women in the program that even through the toughest things, something beautiful can bloom.
The program recently opened its second home. This one in Mission, Kansas. Lorrie Trout, founder and CEO of the program, was in prison for a time herself years ago.
“I’m on my purpose,” Trout said. “I’m in my field where I’m supposed to be. Just to see Kellie, just to see some of the other girls, exceeding where they are or excelling where they are now — I know this is the mission, and this is the plan that God has for my life.”
Brandi Fisher moved into G.R.O.W. in September after being in jail for nearly three years.
“It’s new, and it brings some anxiety,” Fisher said. “But at the same time, this is a huge opportunity for me, and I’m super excited about it.”
She said seeing women like Russel succeed is encouraging.
“It gives me hope and lets me know that it’s possible, and that I can do it, too,” Fisher said. “That I’m not alone in this situation.”
G.R.O.W. has no plans to expand to a third location at this time, but wants to focus on the six women currently living between the houses.
Currently G.R.O.W. is not in need of physical donations but is always in need of financial assistance to improve their programs and help women through this time of transition.