Editorials

TROSA saves lives and helps shoppers save money

In the world of drug addiction, there are not many happy stories. TROSA is one.

The 20-year-old substance abuse recovery program in Durham has the proof: Some 1,350 people have graduated, an 85 percent of them are sober and drug-free a year later. At least 90 percent have a permanent home and 95 percent have jobs.

Kevin McDonald, the chief executive, understands what his clients are going through. He was an addict himself long ago, facing jail time, lots of it, for his criminal activities, when he was convinced to join a recovery program. When he got clean and sober, he wanted to help others. This he has done, and then some.

TROSA has recently gotten more attention because it is opening a second and large thrift store in Durham, at the site of a former Walmart at Oxford Commons shopping center. There, those enrolled in the program work hard to organize and sell used items, from clothes to furniture to electronics.

TROSA also runs a moving company, a lawn care and landscaping service and even sells Christmas trees.

The variety of work opportunities gives residents (TROSA also helps people with housing and other services) a chance to see that they can make a living, that they can live productive lives and break free of addictions.

For Ellen Reckhow, a Durham County commissioner, the program has proved its worth again and again. “What’s great about TROSA,” she said, “is they get their residents involved in a variety of businesses so that they have employment experience.”

Yes, and that experience gives them something to talk about with prospective employers who can offer them better jobs, jobs with which they can support themselves and families.

More than 500 people who are fighting addiction are served by TROSA. In the world of addiction, that may seem like a small number, but it’s not. Addicts destroy themselves and others in time, and helping an addict become a productive citizen, helping just one, is a profoundly noble endeavor.

Consider this from a woman who will graduate from the TROSA program next year. She was addicted to methamphetamine. There were periods when she’d be clean, and then slip back to the hopeless world of addiction. “People are trying to pull you out, and you’re trying to pull you out,” she says, “but you feel hopeless.”

Now, after TROSA, she plans to continue to work with the organization (60 percent of staffers are graduates) and says, “The sky’s the limit.”

What a remarkable transformation. And others have felt the same, going from despair to a program to help them break addiction, to work, to self-worth, to graduation to a better life.

For 20 years now, TROSA has done this, without a great deal of attention, but succeeding with hard work and by sticking with a program that has a proven track record. Now, a new store has opening. And new hopes have opened with it.

May this great organization thrive, and perhaps it will inspire others to do likewise.

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