Thistle Farms began in 1997 when its founder and president, the Rev. Becca Stevens, an Episcopal priest in the Diocese of Tennessee, offered five at-risk women shelter in her home. Today it cares for about 650 women in over 40 U.S. communities, offering two years’ free housing, trauma therapy, and job training to survivors of human trafficking, prostitution, and domestic abuse.
Becca and her Thistle Farms colleagues are in Pasadena this weekend, preaching and speaking Sunday morning at All Saints Episcopal Church Pasadena. Tonight I was among the guests of artist and teacher Robin Blust Kinman and the Rev. Mike Kinman, the All Saints rector and a member of the Thistle Farms global advisory board, for a gracious backyard dinner in their visitors’ honor.
Also aboard, visiting from her home in the Bay Area, was the Rev. Franny Hall Kieschnick, who in 1982 was called as the first female priest on the All Saints staff, and Dr. Najuma Smith Pollard, pastor of the Word of Encouragement Community Church and an advocate for at-risk young women in south Los Angeles.
In her remarks, Becca, besides revealing that she’s at work on a mystery novel, focused on Thistle Farms’ 28 partners around the world — women’s manufacturing enterprises run according to the principle of shared trade, which means 60% of products’ sale price ends up back home in the workers’ pockets. Becca and her powerhouse board and staff provide seed money to help the companies get started.
Root around on the Thistle Farms web site for a while, and I guarantee you’ll feel a little better about our mean old world. You’ll also be tempted to get some early Christmas shopping done. Shipping is free on orders over $100, plus they’ll throw in a free gift. Mike Kinman, wearing his Thistle Farms “Love Heals” t shirt tonight, said he swears by the leather goods. Becca thanked him for being a celebrity spokesmodel.