WickedEye's Quotient

11/24/2007 at 12:00

Magdalene, Thistles, and Beauty

A dedicated iconoclast, I normally don't plug nonprofit organizations- even those to which I belong.

As an organized-religion-phobe, religious nonprofits normally don't register on my radar- with the exception of those with which I worked growing up (if you want to know about either set of organizations, contact me).

But Magdalene is something different. It's a community of women who are working to escape prostitution and drug addiction, founded by an Episcopal pastor.

Magdalene is free. It doesn't discriminate based on race or religion. And Becca Stevens, the pastor who founded it, set the program length at two years- long enough for the women to truly kick their habits and restructure their lives, to begin healing and building new lives for themselves.

It's a program that's not only compassionate but genuinely useful- that's designed to ensure that the women it helps really escape the horrors they work to leave behind.

I bring up this amazing place at this shopping-crazed time of year for a reason.

One of the ways in which Magdalene funds itself is by its bath-and-body "Thistle Farm" products. (Thistle, because it's considered a weed and it grows anywhere- including the concrete alleys where some of the women of Magdalene used to live. But its flowers are beautiful, and strong, and its roots grow deep and wide.)

Made by hand by the women who live at Magdalene, they're not only all-natural and high-quality, they're also an integral part of the rebuilding that Magdalene does.

The women of Magdalene make products that are wonderful, useful, healing. And with them they build the knowledge and confidence that they can contribute positively to the world around them, can create beauty and happiness both directly and indirectly.

The products are excellent (I love the Rose Grapefruit body balm), and the people who make them are outstanding too. All funds received go directly to the Magdalene program and residents.

Here's the website: Thistle Farms

And the story that goes with any gift you buy- the knowledge of what the people who buy (and use) Thistle Farm products are doing for the women who make them- is as good as the products themselves.

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