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.