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How would you feel if you met someone who could help you look good, smell good, feel good.....and DO good- all at the same time? Pretty pleased with your good fortune, I’ll bet!

Meet the awesome Becca Stevens, an Episcopal priest serving as Chaplain at St Augustine's on the campus of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN. In that capacity, she was recently honored as one of President Barack Obama's Champions of Change in October 2011, for her work with Magdalene, and the founding of Thistle Farms. And what is that, you must be wondering.....

About Magdalene and Thistle Farms

Becca StevensStarted in 1997 by a then 33-year-old Becca Stevens and her husband, Magdalene is a residential program for women who have survived lives of prostitution, trafficking, addiction, and life on the streets. Four years after its founding, the Magdalene program blossomed into Thistle Farms, a home-and-body products company that  employs Magdalene graduates, and teaches them real-life work skills.

Stevens realized that her Magdalene community, even with its education, support, and love, was not enough to keep participants off the streets indefinitely. Stevens described the conception of the Thistle Farms idea, “I thought to myself, ‘This is crazy, because these women are still poor, and nothing would make me want to use [substances] more than having nothing to do all day. One of the worst things that can happen to an addict trying to break an addiction is boredom. By keeping the women occupied and providing them with valuable job training, they are better able to ignore cravings or urges to return to their former lifestyles.” As a result, Thistle Farms offers women who need help both a new purpose, a job, and the support and encouragement to carry on with the good work. And it’s not just about job training and education, but  is more about family, community, forgiveness, love, healing, and understanding.

Another remarkable thing about Thistle Farms is that it does not depend upon any government funding at all. It is supported in part by private and business donors, and by the successful sales of the beauty products the women make. “It’s always been easier to do it this way,” says Stevens. “I think it really means something when you know that every penny you’re bringing in is a gift.”

“Baths are very healing. It’s the only place where nobody bothers you,” Stevens says of her decision to start with bath salts. “There’s also a beautiful metaphor behind the idea that you’re healing a body. As you’re making products to heal other people, you’re also doing something for yourself.”
Marcus and Desmond
Her partner in this effort is none other than her husband, world-renowned Grammy-winning songwriter Marcus Hummon, who has written hit songs for such famed artists and bands as Tim McGraw, Rascal Flatts, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and so many more. She and her husband live in Nashville with their three boys.

Recently, Marcus convinced Desmond Child, another local songwriting legend (“Livin’ La Vida Loca” for Ricky Martin, “You Give Love A Bad Name” for Bon Jovi, “Dude (Looks Like A Lady)” for Aerosmith, and tons more) to perform with him at a benefit for the couple’s latest venture, the Thistlestop Café.
Thistle Farm workers
Stevens hopes to open the Thistlestop Café this Fall, where graduates and residents of the Magdalene program will be serving breakfast, light lunch, and high tea. She also wants to begin working within the criminal justice system to bring Magdalene’s community spirit “inside the prison walls.” Stevens’ initiative is inspiring, as she insists, “Let’s not wait and wait and wait until people get out in order for them to find some sanctuary and hope.”

Becca Stevens is one lady who makes a huge difference in the lives of so many! In addition to her many achievements as described above, she is also the author of 7 books about her own personal spiritual journey, and offers many encouraging words for yours.  Her latest books are Funeral for a Stranger and a walking Bible study series, The Path of Peace, Justice and Love. ($7-13). Check out her inspiring blog at  beccastevens.org.
Thistle Farms products
Stores

Thistle Farms products are sold in stores with many different names. With 229 stores across the U.S. (plus one in the UK and one in Singapore), almost anyone can buy Thistle Farms beauty products, and help return some love to the women who made them. Check out  the Thistle Farms website at thistlefarms.org and click Find A Store in the tabs at the top, or click here for a direct link to products you can purchase online!
Let God sort it all out
Get Involved

There are several options to help out besides buying products from Thistle Farms. Here are some ways you can get involved and make a difference.

Volunteer -
Magdalene and Thistle Farms always welcome volunteers. From picking thistles, handyman projects, providing lunch for one of the departments at Thistle Farms, teaching classes and assisting in planning and organizing, volunteers have made Thistle Farms and Magdalene what they are today. For up-to-date Volunteer activities, please visit the "Thistle Farms & Magdalene Volunteers" Facebook page. Emails can also be sent to stacye@thistlefarms.org for further information. Also visit the Thistle Farms Volunteer page on their main website here.
Making thistle products
Intern -
Thistle Farms and Magdalene have interns from a variety of academic disciplines who participate in semester, year-long, and summer internships. Interns are based out of Thistle Farms or Magdalene with opportunities at both locations-- being based at one location does not exclude being involved at the other. They are happy to host students who have an interest in any of the programs including addiction, prostitution, affordable housing, social entrepreneurship and public relations are just a few examples. Projects are usually self-designed with thoughtful supervision from the staff. If you are interested, please contact ali@thistlefarms.org with a resume included.

Donate -
Neither Thistle Farms nor Magdalene receive any federal funding and depend entirely upon individuals and organizations for financial support. Gifts and contributions cover the cost of food, housing, medical care, therapy, transportation, education and job training for the Magdalene residents' two years. Residents are never charged for services or rent during their stay in the program. Give a general donation here or a specific donation towards the funding of particular items or services here.

Once again, check out www.thistlefarms.org and try something new today!

 

 

www.Dishmag.com / Issue 138 - September 3220
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