PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- "I was homeless and addicted to substances in Kensington and I experienced trauma," said Sarah Laurel. "I went out a second story window wearing a dress that said, 'Savage.'"
That altercation put Laurel in the ICU. But it also set her on a path to recovery.
"I went to a home and I was offered the opportunity to run the home," she said. "And I had to choose a name for it. So, I chose the name, 'Savage Sisters.'"
Now a nonprofit, Savage Sisters provides trauma care to individuals affected by addiction and also offers sober housing opportunities to people in recovery.
At the hub in Kensington, volunteers provide food, clothing, and especially trauma care to people who enter from the streets.
"These wounds that we got right now is, like, real bad," said Gene Gallo. "The tranquilizer that they're putting into drugs, it's from that."
Gallo is referring to Xylazine, which is colloquially called, 'Tranq.' The animal tranquilizer has infiltrated much of the drug supply in Philadelphia over the last three years. It can cause life-threatening necrotic wounds on the body.
Gallo received wound care and a new bandage following his visit with the Savage Sisters.
"It's the little things like this that makes us happy," he said. "Getting our wounds taken care of. It's a happy day."
In addition to the care hub, Savage Sisters offers 9 sober housing locations for men and women in recovery. Residents like José Castillo pay rent, work jobs, and sometimes even volunteer to give back.
"The first five days that I walked into that rehab, malnourished and close to dying, that is definitely a motivator in my life today," said Castillo, who is now a house manager. "Through trauma therapy that Savage provides, I'm definitely looking for a brighter future."
As for the future of Savage Sisters, Laurel hopes that more volunteering and donations will allow the grassroots effort to continue. Despite wanting it to grow, she always wants her mission to be focused hyper-locally.
"This work is hard and it's raw and it's ugly. And it's deep and it's meaningful and it's beautiful. And it's exactly where I'm supposed to be," she said.
To learn more about Savage Sisters, visit their website.
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