Shawnee Mission Faces: Lorrie A. Trout, convicted felon and founder of ministry for ex-convicts like herself

A few years ago, Lorrie A. Trout made a terrible decision — one that took her behind bars, put her on the sex offender registry and slapped two felonies on her record. Through that experience, she saw the struggles of incarcerated women who come out of the criminal justice system with no hope and no future.

With the help of her home church, Church of the Harvest in Olathe, she established Grace Restores Overcoming Women (GROW), a faith-based nonprofit and ministry that helps ex-convicts get back on their feet. As founder and executive director, Trout has led a team of volunteers to serve 25+ women in their three homes in Overland Park, Lenexa and Olathe. 

Click here to learn more about Trout’s story, which she shared with her church.

Originally from Arkansas, Trout earned her doctorate in Christian administration (the equivalent of business administration) from Faith Bible College under Oral Roberts University in Tulsa. She’s spent much of her life in business administration and volunteer work, especially for women going through treatment programs.

In her spare time, she enjoys fishing (mostly bass) in a quiet pond somewhere, getting creative in the kitchen to rustle up home-cooked meals for her family, singing and enjoying jazz music. She lives in Lenexa with her husband, Bill Trout. They have six grown children and 10 grandchildren.

I ended up doing 30 days in jail. It really could have been five-plus years in prison. When all this came to pass, I was so embarrassed. I couldn’t believe that had happened. 

I got to see what it was like on the other side of the bars. I had never gotten in trouble with the law in my life. I figured I would be the one on the side of the desk writing information about them, and I would always say those people. And then one day God said you can’t say those people anymore because you’re now one of them people.

I got to see these young girls, they were in and out, in and out, and the police officers knew them by name. I saw these girls really had no future.

In our program, I tell them from day number one, I share my testimony to let them know, you don’t have to be defined by your past. You take that mistake from the past and grow from it. Go. Grow. So they come in as little seeds, and we water them and encourage them, and they grow and blossom.

We help them get jobs, we help them work on their budgeting. The program itself is to help these women overcome their hurts, to overcome their low self-esteem. The program is to help them find out who they are.

They discover the gifts and talents she has. We help them understand she is more than what she thinks she is. Her worth, she may feel little, but we encourage them and let them know you’re better than that and you’re more than that.

Some of these ladies came in, they were embarrassed to wear dresses because they’d been beat down by boyfriends. I have one girl that said the guy told her, you can’t wear a dress, and you can’t wear heels because that’s for tall girls. And he wouldn’t allow her to wear makeup.

This girl, now she has her first apartment. We helped her to get an apartment, and she does her makeup, and she’s like girly-girl (laughs).

We helped three or four get placed into an apartment, one got her own but the other three we helped get into apartments because of the felony thing. One is building her own house right now. 

I’m like OK I got this girl, we need to get her a place, so she’s 30-something and never had her own place, and she’s just so excited. She just moved out last weekend. She said it feels good to have my own place: The legitimate way, the real way.

These girls come with backgrounds of drugs, drug use, drug selling. Some have weapons issues from dealing with the drugs and all that. Some have mental abuse from relationships. So to see their self-esteem built up, it is awesome. Words cannot express, it makes it all worth the while.

Just seeing that we’re making a difference in these girls’ lives. I’ve made some mistakes on some decisions at first because I’m learning this just like them. I had no clue about the drugs — I didn’t know meth was so prevalent and they could get it.

There’s been some that have come and did not make it, and I don’t expect everybody to. Not everybody’s ready to make that transition. But when I look at the ones that are here and have made that mind change, and they have come with the determination of not going back, I’m moving forward — and I see them actually doing that — it makes it all worth the while.

These ladies have so many talents and skills, that I was like OK, I’m going to relinquish this and let them take ownership in this. I’m like this is your house. I don’t have to come and watch you every day. You’re not locked up. You’re free. This is a step into society, take itty-bitty steps one at a time.

The one that just moved out last weekend, she got all of her past-due bills paid. Most people would be like that’s in the past, I’m not going to worry about it. She paid all of her past-due bills off, she got her fines paid. Those things are just awesome.

You know, when it all first happened, I was thinking, oh god, everybody’s gonna know what I did. They’re gonna see this big loser sign on my forehead. But you know now, I tell everybody, you can move on past that. I’m not justifying the sin or the wrong that was done, but it was all part of the journey for me to get where I’m going. 

Because without what had happened, I wouldn’t have GROW right now. But I am so thankful. Every day, I’m thankful.