Wednesday, October 6, 2010

HCA's Caring for the Community Campaign

September 23rd, a group of volunteers from the HCA (Hospital Corporation of America) came by to assist with making thistle paper, as part of their Caring for the Community Campaign. They have been dedicated volunteers for several years and we are thankful for their service to our community. Special thanks to Kathi Whalen for her help & dedication! Here are some comments from volunteers that day (note: photos do not correspond to comments):

Participant 1: It’s one thing to read online about an organization that doing good things – it is truly another to see it in action. The time spent yesterday with a few of the women of Magdalene was priceless and has touched my heart. They have faced what must have seemed like an impossible journey of turning their lives around, leaving behind self destructive behaviors and learning life skills that I have taken for granted. The support program provided by Thistle Farms and the Women of Magdalene is truly life saving. One of the women thanked us yesterday for helping to “save her life." She’s been sober for 6 months as of last Friday. She most likely has no idea that she may have ignited the very spark I needed to address my own self destructive addiction to sugar and processed foods. I am hopeful that by sharing her story with us, she may have just saved my life as well.

Participant 2: Those women were bright and hopeful and seem to look to each day as one that surely will bring something else good to their lives. That is a gift they have won through lots of trials and tribulations. When I think of my own charmed life and the things that I too often consider to be “problems” that get me down, I am simply ashamed of myself after meeting those women yesterday. They helped me think of my own situation differently and they really taught me a lot about life and how to face each day, just in those short moments here and there of sharing their stories. I have never faced anything nearly as difficult as they have, but deep down we are all the same and I just know that in a different time or place, I could be just where they are. I hope that if it were to happen to me I would face the future with the grace and courage that I saw in their beautiful faces yesterday.

Participant 3: Volunteering at Magdalene/Thistle Farms was such a personal and rewarding experience. This organization has such an inclusive, well-rounded program to minister to these women. They not only meet each one’s need for a safe place to live, food and clothing but they go deeper to provide emotional, psychological and spiritual healing necessary for these women to truly turn their lives around and discover who they are and the purpose God has for their lives. By teaching them work skills and work ethic, the women gain confidence, self-esteem and feelings of self-worth.

I had the opportunity to talk with several of the residents as we were working...One stated “I now have my own apartment and another responded “I now have my own house.” I said “That is awesome. What a fantastic accomplishment.” The response I received was a huge smile stating “Yes it sure is and we are thankful to God for the opportunity we have been given.” I immediately knew how much I take for granted in this life.

Participant 4: Working at Thistle Farms was an eye opening experience for my husband and I. My husband is not from America, but this past year he has seen how helping out in the community brings out the best in people. He was really touched as was I by the organization and the people it serves....We take classes to learn about diversity and I can say that yesterday’s experience was more beneficial in diversity education and humanity than any class available. This was definitely for me and my husband one of those cases where you can say you walked away with more than what you came. Our mission was to give back to the community but I think we can all agree that we walked away with more than we could ever imagine. Thank you all so much for such a great experience.

Story and photos compiled by
Kathi Whalen
Nashville, TN

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