As part of the Nashville community, at Nashville Moms Blog we feel strongly that we are part of something bigger than the small worlds we operate in daily. Nashville is a city rich with incredible not-for-profit organizations and resources that support the many and varied different needs of Nashville families, mothers, and children. Once a month, we will be spotlighting a not-for-profit agency that we feel it is important to share with the NMB readers
Thistle Farms, initially established in 1997 under the name ‘Magdalene,’ serves women who have survived the likes of prostitution, trafficking, addiction, and a life on the streets. It is about women building up women in the most wonderful way possible. The organization is comprised of a residential program and a social enterprise. By offering the social enterprise, Thistle Farms is able to aid women in learning the life skills necessary for a life off of the streets as well as benefit them after they have graduated from the program.
Magdalene was initially established by Becca Stevens, an Episcopal priest who serves with Vanderbilt University. The residential program offers housing, food, medical (and dental) needs, therapy, education, and job training. The program does not charge the residents, nor do they receive government funding. It is comprised of 6 homes that do NOT have a live-in staff. It is up to the residents to support one another, encourage each other in recovery, and share the daily household tasks. The women living in the homes range in age from 20-50.
Many were sexually abused as children.
Most started using drugs and alcohol at a young age.
Several of the women have done jail time and, on average, have spent a decade prostituting while living on the streets.
After beginning the program, 72% of the women are clean and sober after 2 1/2 years. After 4 months of being in the program, they are asked to return to school, find employment, and/or enter the job training program through Thistle Farms social enterprise. The organization is also able to offer a matched savings program “to help residents prepare for economic independence upon graduation.” The women who are able to maintain their sobriety for 2 years after graduating are eligible for a home buying program that is made possible by two local congregations, as well as the residential program itself.
The social enterprise is run and maintained by residents and graduates alike. By hand, they produce all-natural bath and body products that directly benefit the women of Thistle Farms. In the same building you will find Thistle Stop Cafe—a place to enjoy a cup of coffee and a delicious meal. It is staffed by both the women from Magdalene and volunteers from the community. Next time you’re going for your coffee run, consider a change of scenery!
Thistle Farms products are available in 400 stores nationwide. Currently, Thistle Farms has a goal to sell 10,000 units of their Rose Geranium Insect Repellant by September 30th. The geranium plants are grown and harvested in Rwanda by a farmers cooperative that is made up of people who were widowed or orphaned as a result of the 1994 genocide in Africa. The partnership is such that Thistle Farms buys the oil from the co-op and then formulates the insect repellant. An increase in sales of the repellant will allow the farmers co-op to pay their employees more, thus helping to rebuild their communities. Thistle Farms is all about loving our fellow women—especially those who may need it the most. It is a worthy cause made up of worthy women who got lost along the way. Everyone deserves a chance to better themselves, and for many, Thistle Farms is exactly the chance they need.
Interested in knowing more? And maybe in buying some Rose Geranium insect repellant?