Founder Lorrie Trout (left) and Program manager Christi Pennington (right). Pennington has her own success story with the organization. After being released from a three-and-a-half-year sentence, she went into one of GROW’s homes in the metro, living with other women finding their way back. “There were some trials, with getting [my] ID and all that stuff and all these things just kept going wrong,” said Pennington. “As soon as I came out, I had a support system. I had Lorrie.”

Local thrift shop helps program to GROW

“It doesn’t matter what kind of letters you have in front of your name or after your name, anyone can make a wrong choice.”

By Kady Cramer

A local non-profit is letting women know that their past doesn’t determine their future. Grace Restores Overcoming Women (GROW), a Christian based program throughout the metro area, offers women that are recently released from incarceration a safe and secure home, in which they can rebuild their lives.

Founder and executive director Lorrie Trout started the program in 2017 after her own run-in with the justice system. 

“About 12 years ago I found myself on the opposite side of the law,” says Trout.

Through that experience, she saw the struggles of incarcerated women who come out of the system with no hope and no future.

Starting out working with the Adult Residential Center in Gardner, Kans.,  Trout began reaching out to local women’s prisons. The program focuses on behavioral, health, financial, and spiritual goals – developing resumes, increasing savings and eliminating debt, attending church, and actively seeking employment. 

In addition to giving the women a stable place to live, the program offers counseling and skill building. 

“We work on getting these ladies to improve their self-esteem,” says Trout. “They tend to focus on what they’ve done in the past and don’t think that they can move forward in life. Our goal is to help them be productive citizens in the community.”

Remarkably, Trout holds two doctorate degrees, one in Business Administration and one in Christian Counseling.

“It doesn’t matter what kind of letters you have in front of your name or after your name, anyone can make a wrong choice,” says Trout. “I encourage them to know that they are better than the choices they’ve made in the past. They can move forward making wiser choices.”

Facilities now contact the program to see if beds are available for the recently released. GROW currently has three four-bedroom houses in Johnson County and one three-bedroom home in Independence. Participants can enter the program for a minimum of six months, up to two years. 

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A Thrifty Expansion

GROW opened their first thrift store, Grow With Us, in May of this year at 13007 State Line Road. 

Two years into the program, GROW had received so many donations that organizers thought about starting a thrift store but ended up deciding to have a large garage sale instead. 

“We had so many things in storage,” says Trout, “So I contacted one of our donors to see if he had a space for us to set up some tables.”

That donor came through with what is now the storefront for the shop.

While setting up what was supposed to be the sale, Trout realized just how many donations they had to offer. With a store full of items and even more that still needed to be unpacked, she decided they had to open a thrift store. 

“We haven’t even begun to get our donations out of storage because we had so many additional things come in [in preparation for the sale],” says Trout. “Now, we’re really a full-fledged thrift store. It really looks like a unique boutique.”

One of the hardest things for recently incarcerated women is finding employment. Background checks disqualify them from numerous jobs and some of the women find it harder on the outside than they thought it would be.

“I’ve had some of the women tell me they’d rather go back to prison than deal with the process the ‘outside’ will put them through and I totally understand it,” says Trout.

The ladies of the program can now gain real world experience working in the store. 

“We hear nothing but raving reports from everyone that we have such good quality things, and they love coming in to talk to those that are working. We have so many repeat customers already.”

The funds that come in from the thrift store go back into the ministry to help the women with their program fees, court fees, child support, etc.

“When they come out of prison, the fees they owe from the past don’t go away,” says Trout. “We tell them they have to get those things taken care of in order to move forward. These funds will also make sure they have food and clothes to wear…rides to and from work.”

Trout says experiences like the ones they’ll have at the thrift store can prepare them for other jobs or for starting their own businesses with skills they pick up along the way.

For more information about the GROW program, visit



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