Detroit non-profit highlights free services for sexual assault survivors

With April being designated as Sexual Assault Awareness Month, a special event was held at one of Michigan's leading organizations dedicated to helping survivors.

"One of the challenges we’ve had as an organization doing the work that we do is people typically don't know about us until they need us, and we want to sort of flip the script on that," said the executive director of Avalon Healing Center, Kimberly Hurst.

Avalon Healing in Detroit held a tea event Tuesday afternoon to raise awareness about sexual assault, and about the non-profit. Attendees and organizers dressed up in fancy hats, dresses and accessories.

"When you’ve been victimized, when you’ve been hurt – some of that beauty that you feel is kind of gone. So as you heal, you kind of start to love yourself again, and who doesn’t feel lovely in pearls?" said Jessica Yeargin, an attendee.

The month of April is especially important to Avalon.

"It is sexual Assault Awareness Month, so we really wanted to highlight the Avalon Healing Center as a place of respite and a place of healing in our community," said Trinea Gonczar, the director of engagement, a former gymnast and a survivor of Larry Nassar.

And now, they will be able to do even more of that essential work with a $1 million grant they received from MacKenzie Scott's Yield Giving.

"We are going to be using these dollars for capitol improvements; for professional development for our employees," said the sr. director of development at Avalon, Mivida Burris. "Also, we need to plan for sustainability."

Avalon's services are free and available to anyone who has experienced sexual assault and/or sexual abuse in any form.

"In working day by day with survivors and knowing my own experience, I think the work that Avalon is doing crucial," said Pamela Ruiter-Freensta, another event attendee. "It’s essential work. It's saving lives."

For more information about Avalon and its services, visit