The Philanthropy Collaborative

Regional Case Studies

Triangle Residential Options for Substance Abuse
Durham, North Carolina

Triangle Residential Options for Substance Abuse (TROSA) started in 1994 with $18,000 and 15 program enrollees. After a brief stint where program enrollees earned their keep by peeled potatoes, Executive Director Kevin McDonald began sending his residents to North American Van Lines for training, using them as temporary workers for local moving companies. In late 1994, McDonald was able to purchase a license to operate a moving company of his own, and TROSA Moving was created. The company generated less than $50,000 during the first year, but is currently a $5 million dollar business and the 6th largest moving company in the Research Triangle Park area. "I didn't know I couldn't do it," said McDonald. "So I did."

When TROSA started there was no formal fundraising apparatus, making the program's business operations critical to its survival. In addition to the moving company, TROSA also operates a lawn care company, a frame shop, a furniture shop, a temp agency serving the temporary labor needs of local businesses, a Christmas tree business, and a grocery store.

The program currently serves more than 400 people through its intensive two-year residential substance abuse treatment program, taking on enrollees that are among the most difficult substance abusers to treat. The goal is to have every resident stay two years and learn three job skills.

Since the program began in 1994, there have been approximately 1,100 graduates, and all but one of them left the program with a job. In addition, in 2009, the businesses produced over 50 percent of the income needed to fund TROSA's nearly $10 million budget, with the remainder made up from $3 million in donated products from the private sector, $1 million in private contributions, and $533,860 in government funding.

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