Thursday, May 14, 2009

Meet Beverly

When you walk into the Thistle Farms office, you will most likely hear Beverly’s voice on the phone. “Thank you so much for your purchase!” she says often, to new stores that agree to carry our products. “That’s three more stores today!” she excitedly reports. “But I’m pretty sure we can get one more by the end of the week.”

Determination for whatever she’s doing is one of Beverly’s strongest traits. Born and raised in Pontiac, Michigan, Beverly had to jump into a caregiver role when, at 15, her mother was recovering from a mastectomy and her alcoholic father announced he was leaving the family.

Her next full forced leap was moving to Florida after high school, marrying and having a son. When he was 8 months old, Beverly filed for a divorce. Josh’s dad did not take the news lightly and kidnapped their son. Though she had tried hallucinogenics in her teen years, Beverly turned to cocaine to numb her pain.

With luck and help from the FBI, Josh was eventually returned and the two moved to Texas. Beverly’s cocaine habit was now daily, but she was also able to maintain jobs (including bank teller, nurse’s aide and waitress) and referred to herself as a “responsible addict.” But as the drug use increased (both smoking and shooting crack), the need for more money increased and she began prostituting to afford her lifestyle.

Things began to fall apart for Beverly. Her son discovered her drug use and disowned her for 15 years. She received drug charges and went to jail for a prostitution charge. She then discovered she had contracted Hepatitis C from sharing a needle. To receive the treatment for the disease, she had to get clean, even though she didn’t want to leave the life she had come to know.

Her sister had heard about Magdalene at a Bill Gaithers’ Homecoming concert when gospel artist Russ Taff talked about the program. She encouraged Beverly to call. Though a bed was not available at that time, Beverly called Magdalene every Monday for five months. In April of 2007, Beverly joined the Magdalene community and began treatment for her illness. Four months later, she started at Thistle Farms and her niche on the sales team.

These days, Beverly is an energetic 54 year old going to nursing school who just completed her first semester with straight A’s. She is back in contact with her son, free of drugs and in remission from Hepatitis C. She speaks with conviction about Thistle Farms. “I’m passionate about the ministry and helping women. It’s not just a job to me. That money comes back in to save another life.”

Written by Carolyn Snell.
Photographs by Kristina Krug.

Monday, May 11, 2009

With gratitude for Nina.

A couple months ago we got an email from a woman, a licensed massage therapist, who had just learned about us. She had been in Whole Foods, saw our products and read a little about us. She was so moved that she talked to the owner of her salon, and some of the staff members there, and came up with the idea of treating our women to a day of love, luxury and the power of human touch. The day turned into such a gift for all of us - and we think it was healing for those gave, who received or were just there to witness.

We found out yesterday that Nina Magnin, our dear new friend, passed away suddenly last week. In the course of a seemingly ordinary day, an ordinary errand, an ordinary car ride, Nina's life quickly and abnormally ended - and in the wake no doubt is great heartache for her family, friends and co-workers.

We wanted to share these beautiful images of Nina and the gentle, caring touch that she shared with our community that day. We offer these to her family and friends as a celebration of a life deeply lived and love that she offered generously to us. We grieve with her beloved daughter, son, husband and friends, especially at Elysium, and will keep you close in our hearts.

We close with an image of her hands as she nourished LaTasha with her healing touch. Clearly Nina's hands were a part of her life's work, and we are grateful that we received such a precious gift.

Text and images by Carolyn Snell

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Before I Was A Mom

A Mother's Day Poem by Demetria....

"Before I Was A Mom"

Before I was a mom,
I never tripped over toys
or forgot words to a lullaby.
I didn't worry whether or not
my plants were poisonous.
I never thought about immunizations.

Before I was a mom,
I had never been puked on,
pooped on,
chewed on,
peed on.
I had complete control of my mind and my thoughts.
I slept all night.

Before I was a mom,
I never held down a screaming child so doctors could do tests
or give shots.
I never looked into teary eyes and cried.
I never got gloriously happy over a simple grin.
I never sat up late hours at night watching a baby sleep.

Before I was a mom,
I never held a sleeping baby just because
I didn't want to put him or her down.
I never felt my heart break into a million pieces when I couldn't stop the hurt.
I never knew that something so small
could affect my life to much.
I never knew I would love being a mom.

Before I was a mom,
I never had gotten up in the middle of the night
every 10 minutes to make sure all was ok.

I had never known the warmth,
the joy,
the love,
the heartache,
the wonderment
or the satisfaction
of being a mom.