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Creating a community of healing in Navarre

Set Free Refuge Inc. continues to be a force for healing in the Panhandle.

Their transitional home for commercially sexually exploited children (CSEC) and sex trafficking survivors called The Refuge is full.

“We are honored and proud of the work we are doing with these young women,” Executive Director and Therapist Marcie Rey Landreth said. “Our residents are so filled with thankfulness and appreciation for their safe and welcoming environment.
“One of our young women told us, we were the first people to really help or even truly care about them,” Landreth said. “It warms my heart to know we can be a force for healing and good in our community.”

Their work with these young women takes being a mental health therapist to the next level with the additional element of housing the people they treat. Landreth shares that “deeper bounds are created, and community is developed in The Refuge, ultimately, that is how people change.”

“It wouldn’t be possible without my incredible staff Residential Coach Kellie Stockdale and Peer Mentor Gabi Keele,” Landreth said.

Stockdale is a retired psychologist who worked for the military for many years. She is also a yoga teacher and brings an element of peace and patience to the home. Keele is a Navarre High School graduate who is finishing her master’s in social work in August.

“She helps our young women feel competent and capable,” Landreth continues to share about their amazing volunteers who work with their young women at The Refuge. “All of these people help to create our community of healing.”

When asked what was next for Set Free Refuge, Landreth says her goal is to grow the community of healing to include a network of mental health therapists who serve and treat CSEC, sex trafficking, and sexually exploited individuals.

“I had the privilege to attend the state meeting in Orlando last month with Attorney General Ashley Moody, one of the many things discussed was the need for mental health therapists who understand this population,” Landreth said.

Set Free Refuge has an opportunity to be a model for mental health therapy across the state of Florida.
“Many treatment homes contract out their mental health services, however our goal is to provide them inhouse,” Landreth said.

At this time, they have two mental health contracts with non-profit organizations serving sex trafficking survivors, one of which is The Secrete Place Home, a human trafficking advocacy center.

Landreth shared a recent victory in creating that community of healing. Set Free Refuge received a $45,000 grant from The Safe Alliance – the strategic alliance to fight exploitation in the Panhandle.

“This money has given us the ability to hire another therapist and to open our services to sexual abuse survivors,” Landreth said. “Even though our organization focuses on treating survivors of sex trafficking and sexual exploitation, not all survivors recognize that they are victims of that kind of abuse, or they don’t want the stigma associated with the term. This is why we open up our services to survivors of sexual abuse because sex trafficking is commercialized sexual abuse.”

If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, they can contact Set Free Refuge at 850-463-5191 or visit their website SetFreeRefuge.org for more information.