Sunday, January 27, 2013

What Becomes Beautiful

When I was walking the streets I was unwanted. People would shout GET OFF THE STREETS! They would call the police and say I was a public nuisance. They would view and judge me only by sight and not allow themselves to see that I had any real depth. When really my spirit was crying out for love and kindness and I thought there was no one there to give it.

Photo by Stacye Wilson
Thistle paper starts out as unwanted things. Unwanted by almost everyone but Thistle Farms. Discarded paper, cardboard and a rough and prickly weed called the thistle. Most people consider these things trash or a public nuisance. Thistle Farms does not. These things also have depth. The thistle has healing properties and the paper and cardboard are the glue that holds the paper together.

Thistle Farms can see something beautiful in the things that most people want to throw away. Then they turn them into something beautiful, most importantly, the women.

By Jennifer, Thistle Farmer

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The EMI CMG Christmas Give Away

Each year EMI CMG, record company home for artists like Toby Mac and Amy Grant, works with a local nonprofit and 'gives away their Christmas.' This past fall, Bill Hearn, president of the company, approached us with a great partnership opportunity for the holidays.

Over a two month period, our community had the opportunity to get to know EMI CMG employees in a variety of roles in the company -- from marketing and music publishing to sales and distribution -- and they got to know Magdalene residents and graduates and learn more about this work.

The EMI Christmas Give Away included:
  • A commissioned order to create 1,200 thistle paper custom covers for a EMI CMG Christmas compilation (covers produced in our paper studio).
  • A 12 Days of Christmas program where the entire company volunteered with us over 12 different days in November and December - helping us prepare for construction of the Thistle Stop CafĂ©, work in the paper studio and various volunteer work. 
  • Participating in The Great Cotton Harvest where they delivered over 700+ t-shirts for use in our paper and sewing studios.
  • A beautiful Christmas luncheon for Magdalene/Thistle Farms and their staff, with music from special guest Amy Grant.
  • A gift of $15,890 check to sponsor the 2013 class of 7 new women coming to work at Thistle Farms!

The partnership with EMI CMG is a beautiful example of business partnering with nonprofits to make long-term, sustainable impact in their community and beyond. We are deeply grateful to EMI CMG, to Al and Nita Andrews of Porter's Call for introducing us to them, and for all the gifts that the relationship brought to the community of Magdalene / Thistle Farms.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Warmth for Hannah

The Hannah Project is a program that was started by the Nashville District Attorney’s Office in an effort to educate and help women who are currently involved in prostitution, whether by choice or by force. After completing the one day program, the women can have individual cases dismissed, and receive assistance in having charges expunged from their record.

More importantly, the goal of The Hannah Project is to give these women the opportunity to utilize free resources in the community including: free counseling for sexual assault (past or present,) drug treatment, and immediate help to go to a safe house for those being controlled or endangered by another. 

The Hannah Project was named in honor of the Hannah from the Bible, who faced public scorn, but never gave up hope. Hannah represents strength and beauty, and the power to overcome obstacles.

Magdalene graduate, Shana, feels very passionately about giving back to to this special organization that helps women who are in the same situation that she was once in.

"The Hannah Project is very close to my heart. Sure, it is Informative. They dispense information from The Sexual Assault Center, provide S.T.D awareness, and H.I.V testing for the ladies who are still 'out there.' But for me, it's personal. People often ask me what to say or do in a situation where so many women need so much help. I tell them not to think about it that way. Most of these women are used to being lied to and hurt. A small gift or kind word from an open heart can replace that despair with hope.  

I know this because I see my own face looking back at me every time I visit The Hannah Project. I am proof, that the women there can see with their own eyes, that a loving community can help us overcome."


As we are seeing record breaking cold in Nashville, hope can be as simple as a new hat, or gloves, a pretty new scarf, or a nice warm sweatshirt.  If you would like to help Shana gather these items for The Hannah Project, please drop off at Thistle Farms, 5122 Charlotte, any time between the hours of 9AM-3PM by Friday, January 25th.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Partnering Professional Work With Personal Passion

We are so grateful at Magdalene/Thistle Farms to hear from women doing remarkable work in their professional lives. They inspire us, and it is wonderful to know that we inspire them also! Recently, we had three such women who each found a way to partner their professional work with support of a personal passion to help others. We'd love to share those three women with you here.

Heather Jelks, from Nautilus Coaching in Alexandria Virginia, chose us this year as the organization to contribute to on behalf of her clients. She gave us a beautiful gift in their honor and introduced her clients to us in a letter.

"Each year, in honor of my network of clients and colleagues, Nautilus makes a contribution to an organization whose leadership exemplifies remarkable commitment. This year, I have made a contribution to Magdalene Inc. and Thistle Farms. Becca's reserves of strength and resilience are an example of her conviction in the power of community. My husband introduced me “virtually” to Becca two years ago by sharing a video. I knew Magdalene was the right organization for me when I woke up several weeks ago in the early morning hours, aware that the image of a female barefoot priest had visited me in my dreams. Since Becca is the only female priest I’m aware of who delivers a sermon barefoot,  I knew this image was a message! Becca Stevens embodies the qualities of personal leadership that we all seek to cultivate in ourselves: courage, conviction and care."  

Heather O’Neill Jelks, President
Nautilus Coaching & Consulting, LLC


Beth Laird and Creative Nation, a music publisher in Nashville, are sponsors of our Education Workshops. Beth also hosted about 15 of her friends at our annual fundraiser this year. In addition to, for Christmas, Beth purchased Thistle Farms Club memberships for the women in her life!

"I love the Thistle Farms Product of the Month Club...especially for Christmas gifts! It's the perfect way to pamper the women in your life and help the women at Thistle Farms year around.  Now I can give my friends and family 6 shipments of Thistle Farms products throughout the year instead of just giving them one gift in December.  I can't think of a better way to show love to the women in your life and give love to the women of Thistle Farms."

Beth Mason Laird
Creative Nation


Sarah Finks, a business coach Ann Arbor, Michigan, found us through a client. The work and the women in the program resonated with her and she gave a wonderful holiday gift in honor of her clients to the women here.

"I have a business coaching women who feel like they are stuck, feel trapped in their lives etc... and I help them to start living into their 'awesomeness.' I have been looking for a charity to partner with but was having the hardest time picking, it's been in the back of my mind for awhile but this weekend I knew I needed to take some action. I sat down at my desk this morning and one of my clients mentioned today that she had seen Becca speak in Cincinnati and she was all fired up about it. So I took a look and I absolutely LOVE what you are doing. Seriously, tears. I just knew this was the right fit. So thank you so much for finding me :)."

Sarah Finks, MSN, Life Management Expert For Women
Sarah Finks Facebook Page