Just in time for the holidays, housing and recovery services organization Eden House is launching its Especially Eden (www.edenhousenola.org/especiallyeden.html) line of curated gift baskets. Brimming with goods from local businesses such as Native Polish, Jambalaya Girl and Orleans Coffee and art by locals Frances Rodriguez, Emma Fick and Alexa Pulitzer, the baskets come in three sizes and make jazzy New Orleans-inspired gifts.
The mission of Eden House is to end human sex trafficking through a holistic approach to recovery. Women accepted into the program are given housing and outpatient therapy over a two-year period, and upon graduation are eligible for housing vouchers and a savings match program for money saved during residency.
The program also stresses the importance of employment counseling, offering support with resume building and mock interviews to help residents prepare to enter the workforce.
"Because of their complex legal histories, a lot of these women don't have high school diplomas or GEDs," says Dana Tumbaga, program coordinator at Eden House. "A lot of them have felonies on their records, and it's really hard for them to find jobs. ... That's why there's such a great need for the social enterprise component that we're launching."
Residents involved with Especially Eden receive valuable training in website development, accounting, sales and marketing. The work also connects residents with local companies and potential employers. Sales from the baskets will pay residents' salaries and fund this and other programs.
"(The baskets) get us connected to the community in a great way," Tumbaga says. "There's an opportunity to spread the news through business avenues and to support ... not only local businesses, but also women- and minority-owned businesses."