Lucky Van De Gejuchte
I’m sure that everyone who attended the national assembly in Nashville, 2010, remembers the wonderful presentation given by the Reverend Becca Stevens and her women from Magdalene/ Thistle Farms. For anyone who did not hear her talk, I would like to tell you a little about Magdalene Farms.
The Reverend Becca Stevens, an Episcopal priest, also Episcopal Chaplain at Vanderbilt University and author of eight books, had a vision in 1997 that would change the lives of hundreds of women in Nashville. She started the Magadalene program, a residential community for women who have survived prostitution, addiction and abuse. Today, Magdalene operates six houses, sheltering 28 women.
In 2001, the program led to the creation of Thistle Farms, a home and body products company that teaches Magdalene residents real-life skills. Thistle Farms employs 34 women, all graduates of the Magdalene program.
Becca’s vision for change is now being recognized outside of Nashville. On Thursday, October 20, 2011, she was named one of 15 Champions of Change by the White House Office of Public Engagement for her work with former prostitutes. The award is part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. “I believe this recognition is in honor of Magdalene’s witness for the past 15 years to the truth that love is the most powerful force for change in the world.” Stevens said in a statement. “I want to help change this culture that still buys and sells women and holds on to the notion that prostitution is a victimless crime.”
LCUSA board member Connie O’Brien describes a recent Thistle Farms event:
Thistle Farms products are available in many communities. On a recent Saturday morning at a local farmer’s market in Birmingham, AL, the women of Magdalene / Thistle Farms were present to sell their products from Charlie Thigpen’s shop, “The Gardener’s Gallery.” Prior to opening his store, Charlie was the plant and garden editor for Southern Living magazine, which is published by Southern Progress, located in Birmingham. His store sells plants, garden accessories and gifts. It also hosts classes on gardening and crafts. He is now selling Thistle Farms products and has encouraged members of the Birmingham community to give these women a second chance by purchasing their wonderful all natural products. Remember the creamy Body Butter from our national assembly? Much like thistle, which is the hardiest of weeds, the women of Magdalene are survivors. With the holidays right around the corner, now’s a good time to stock up for gift giving! You can check Thistle Farms website to see if there is a retailer in your area or you can purchase on line at: http://www.thistlefarms.org