When Kimberly Hurst was a physician assistant student at a Southeast Michigan hospital, she was handed a rape kit and told to use it for her patient. Not only was this was Kimberly’s first time using a rape kit, she had no prior training on how to appropriately administer it. That’s when she realized the extreme need for comprehensive education and compassionate care to help survivors of sexual violence.

Allowing her experience to fuel her passion, Kimberly is now the Founder and Executive Director of Avalon Healing Center, an organization that assists individuals who have been sexually assaulted through trauma-informed care.

In June, the team at Avalon hosted an open house at their newest location at 601 Bagley in downtown Detroit – a former DTE building.

This center will allow for expanded services for survivors including a variety of therapy options, advocacy, medical evaluations and more. While the center continues to complete renovations, the team is working with trauma-informed designers to create a serene space – from the shapes and placement of furniture, down to the color of the paint used throughout the building.  

“The idea for this center came about several years ago when our board and I were thinking about what Avalon’s end goal is,” said Kimberly. “The goal is to create a place offering anything and everything survivors would potentially need in their healing journey.”

While there are programs for sexual assault, she explained they’re typically only focused on one or two aspects of what survivors need.

“There was nothing in southeast Michigan we could find that offers comprehensive services for sexual assault in one place,” explained Kimberly.

There was a large gap in need for this type of center, so Kimberly and her team stepped up for the community.

During the open house, community members and leaders visited Avalon’s new locationto tour the space and learn about the expanded services they will now be able to provide.

In 2022, the DTE Foundation partnered with Avalon Healing Center to provide a grant that allowed the nonprofit to further assist survivors with free medical and trauma care.

“This is not an easy subject to talk about and people can struggle to address it,” said Kimberly. “For the DTE Foundation to be willing to acknowledge the issue and not shy away from helping us and the work we do says volumes around the values the Foundation holds true to.”

Since its founding in 2006, Avalon has helped serve more than 20,000 survivors of sexual assault and human trafficking.

“At the DTE Foundation, we are aware of the unfortunate facts surrounding how prominent sexual assault is and the dire need for the work of an organization like Avalon Healing Center,” said Rodney Cole, DTE Foundation president. “Seeing how passionate Kimberly and her whole team are about healing survivors is inspirational, and we know the future work they do out of the new center will change and save lives.”

Every 73 seconds, someone in the United States is sexually assaulted, and Michigan is ranked second in the country for sexual assaults. If you or someone you know need Avalon Healing Center’s services, call the 24-hour helpline at 313-474-SAFE.

To learn how you can support the organization, visit Get Involved – Avalon Healing.