About Thistle Farms Residential: Magdalene
Welcome to the circle.
The residential program was established in 1997 by Becca Stevens, an Episcopal priest on Vanderbilt's campus, under the name Magdalene. It serves women who have survived lives of prostitution, trafficking, addiction and life on the streets. Thistle Farms, the name for the entire organization, also includes a social enterprise.
A few distinctives of the residential program:
- For two years, we offer housing, food, medical and dental needs, therapy, education and job training without charging the residents or receiving government funding.
- Our six homes function without 24-hour live-in staff, relying on residents to create a supportive community, maintain recovery, and share household tasks.
- Women come to from prison, the streets and from across the Southeast and the country.
- Residents range in age from 20-50, and many have been sexually abused between the ages of 7-11, began using alcohol or drugs by 13, have spent years in and out of jail, and have spent on average a decade on the street prostituting.
- 72% percent of the women who join Magdalene are clean and sober 2 1/2 years after beginning the program.
We furnish housing for 30 residents and graduates and provide outreach services to women still living on the streets. New residents are given a key and are offered the necessary resources to maintain recovery, heal from childhood wounds, become physically healthy and find employment.
After four months, the women find work, return to school and/or enter the job training program through our social enterprise. We also offers a matched savings program to help residents prepare for economic independence upon graduation. Women who remain in recovery two years post-graduation are eligible for a new home buying program administered by two local congregations and the residential program.
Our programs are grounded in its 24 spiritual principles that advocate living gracefully in community with one another. Residents, graduates, staff and volunteers share daily tasks, offer hospitality, build on each other’s strengths, and provide compassionate, disciplined support.
Thistle Farms was founded not only to help a subculture of women, but also to help transform the culture itself. We stand in solidarity with women who are recovering from abuse, trafficking, addiction, and life on the streets, and who have paid dearly for a culture that continues to buy and sell women.