Words by Anna Lee Vaughn | Image by Justin Hunter
Anthony Sellers and Tina Aaron are responding to their community’s needs through a new nonprofit to the Walker County area called HARTT.
HARTT stands for Healing and Responding to Trauma, an area of social services in which Tina has served for over 30 years. She has spent her life working with the Department of Human Resources (DHR), homeless children, and those receiving public assistance.
When Tina became the director of Youth Advocate Programs (YAP) in 2016, she sought to create a program for students dealing with trauma. It was through this program that Tina reconnected with her childhood friend, Anthony Sellers.
“I’ve known Anthony since we were young. Our paths crossed again later in life, and he happened to call me about the program,” Tina recalls. “I had just hired someone, but that ended up falling through, so I called him back a little while later and said, ‘pray about this if you’re interested.’”
Anthony, a minister of nearly 15 years, earned his graduate degree in Educational Psychology and has always had a heart for helping children in need.
“I’ve always wanted to help children who struggle in school, who don’t have much chance because of their trauma. They’re more likely to drop out or fail, and I want the opportunity to change that,” he says.
Eager to help Tina with the Trauma Informed School Program, Anthony began overseeing the programs daily operations and visiting schools to encourage children through their trauma-based learning struggles or behavioral issues. Anthony also briefly became the Director of YAP when Tina left to help care for her grandchild.
However, it soon became evident that God was leading the two to create something of their own, a way to uniquely respond to trauma within their community.
“When COVID hit and shut us down, we saw the community’s trauma. This situation greatly affected kids, and we decided to look into that. We were asking, ‘how can we become more trauma-informed?’” Tina says.
Anthony and Tina soon became certified Trauma Practitioners, gaining a better understanding of how children are affected by trauma. They believe the Lord led them to establish an organization of their own, and HARTT officially opened its doors on November 1, 2022.
HARTT has grown rapidly over the last five months, with Anthony and Tina already exceeding their goal of helping 200 kids in one year. The nonprofit’s staff has grown to 18 people, working from two locations in downtown Jasper.
HARTT continues its Trauma-Informed School Program while also offering counseling services to all ages. Anthony and Tina work closely with DHR to offer supervised family visit and collaborate with District Judge Henry Allred to counsel juveniles that come through the local courts.
HARTT operates on a mixture of school and home visitations, as well as supervised visits from another site on Fifth Avenue. The organization focuses on meeting the need wherever the child is.
“One thing we cannot overstate is how blessed we are by our community. Both of our locations have been gifted to us, and having locations we don’t have to pay for is incredible,” says Tina. “We also have a lot of needs met through social media, so the community is an outreaching arm, an extension for us. The community provides and allows us to sow into what we consider our ministry.” WL
To contact HARTT, call (205) 582-4345 or email email@example.com.