Businesses Empowering Communities Across the United States

Locate businesses with heart from a small town in upstate New York to an expansive, abundantly green city in Oregon, empowering communities across the United States. Passion for serving others and improving the life trajectory for either those living on the fringes of society or young impressionable minds who will determine the direction of the future is what fuels their momentum forward.

Hopewell,New York

Unshattered thrives in Hopewell,NY, where creative artisan skills produce economic independence as 100% of proceeds goes toward creating employment. Incorporated in 2016, Unshattered is a nonprofit retail shop specializing in creation of a diverse line of bags and accessories, handcrafted using repurposed material by women survivors of addiction.

Dee Dee, born in prison but now an accomplished seamstress who has spoken at the White House, sewing a label on a bag she made. Photo courtesy of Unshattered

Each bag keeps 3 secrets. One, on the inside liner, where it cannot be seen, is a message of good intention from it’s artist which could be a prayer for the future bag owner, a verse or possibly her number of days in sobriety. Two, each bag is named for someone who is still tethered to addiction, and whom is prayed for during the bag’s creation.  Secret number three, the use of gold thread in assent with Kintsugi, the Japanese art form that uses gold lacquer to repair breaks in an object, viewing breaks as part of the object’s history and more beautiful because of them, similar to the women of Unshattered.

The mission is received with open arms. Sewing new beginnings in the town of Hopewell, Kelly Lyndgaard, CEO and founder of Unshattered shares,”Our community has been incredible in supporting our women as they come out of recovery programs through shopping, donating, and helping the women economically so they can maintain their sobriety. In 3 1/2 years of providing full time employment for women in recovery, we have not had one relapse.”

Black Mountain,NC

The LEAF festival, a nonprofit organization is held amidst rejuvenating fresh air and the unyielding, calm of Black Mountain for a long weekend of cultural exchange, celebrating diversity and raising money for their community youth art and cultural awareness programs.

Inclusivity is priority, Marsha Almodavar, of LEAF Community Engagement shares “At LEAF we have a few signature programs that provide access to music and art education to underrepresented and under-resourced communities” including LEAF and Streets and ULEAF among others.

Community children become global citizens, learning more about their own heritage as well as “Through year-round programs and week-long residencies, LEAF offers the opportunity for students to explore different art forms from around the world” says Erinn Hartley, LEAF education Director.

Chicago,IL

Inspiration Kitchens dishes out delectable dining to it’s patrons, but also a free 12 week training program to earn certification as a food handler, and sanitation manager for applicants in need to address poverty and homelessness in Chicago.

Food service training program. Photo courtesy of Inspiration Kitchens

Life transformation sometimes comes in the form of Sticky Bread, Shrimp and Grits,Gumbo or even the Impossible Burger as employees enter what Colin Higgins, Grant Writer for Inspiration Corporation, parent organization to Inspiration Kitchens calls “a growing industry that has opportunity for advancement to really begin a sustainable career.”

In an effort to reduce the risk of recidivism and relapse, Inspiration Kitchens provide uniforms, cover costs of certifications and provide transportation assistance. Colin adds, “It tends to be a good fit for folks who have multiple barriers going against them”

Obliterating socioeconomic barriers with each meal prepared, Inspiration Kitchens has placed over 650 graduates in culinary jobs to date.

Nashville, TN

Nashville’s Thistle Farms is a local, national and global nonprofit social enterprise ardent in it’s mission to heal and create financial independence for women survivors of trafficking, prostitution and addiction.

Thistle Farms natural Bath and Body products. Photo by Nikia Knapp

Using essential oils and natural ingredients, bath and body products and soy candles are handmade by survivors to support themselves and bring more women off the streets.

Enjoy healthful eats or treats at The Cafe at Thistle Farms or meaningful spending in The Shop at Thistle Farms. Proceeds supply food,shelter,therapy, healthcare, job training and employment. Doris Walker-Taylor, survivor and now Director of Events at Thistle Farms shares “They give us everything we need to become whole again.”

Portland, Oregon

Central City Coffee, a nonprofit business warming bodies and hearts in Portland,Oregon with their high end, women’s empowerment branded coffee.

Central City Coffee bags Photo by Karen Lickteig

With each bag of coffee sold, Central City Coffee helps formerly homeless mothers gain soft and hard job skills that build self confidence as they become productive members of their community. It’s mother corporation, Central City Concern, supports women with housing and services as they transition to independent living.

Mother’s can gain experience in marketing, customer service, invoicing, office operations and everything there is to know about the coffee business. Sarah Porter, Business Director for Central City Coffee adds “They are amazing people working really hard to put their lives together and learn new skills.

Across the United States, businesses transcend obstacles,empower people and make impactful strides in their communities, one bag, one festival, one meal, one candle, and one cup of coffee at a time.

” At the core, we are manifestations of divinity.” ~ Herb K.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Most Important Travel Destination in Nashville, TN

There’s a place in Nashville, TN that is a social phenomenon.  I don’t believe enough people know of this treasure trove.  I’m not seeing this location on the list of Googled “Top 10 places to visit in Nashville.” We went, had the most profound experience, and decided, Thistle Farms is the most important travel destination in Nashville, TN.

Nashville, TN is a tourism city noted for having a long history being founded in 1779. Tourist frequently arrive eager to enjoy local venues that provide live music daily, learn more about country music history and visit historical landmarks. This was my second visit to Nashville. On my first visit i went with friends. We enjoyed the party ambiance and a taste of the country music scene on Music Row which was fun.

The journey back to Nashville with Apache had our hearts leading the entire way. This time we went to visit the most important travel destination in Nashville,TN.

Anticipating our arrival to Thistle Farms…

This visit was a full circle spiritual uniting with Thistle Farms for me.  About 6 years ago Apache and I walked into a boutique in North Carolina and picked up one of their products for the first time.

My eyes gravitated toward the jar of body butter wrapped in a royal purple label with bright yellow lettering. Was it the color choices that got my attention to pick up that butter or possibly God? Out of curiosity i pivoted that jar around to see exactly what the product was made of.  It read…. “This product was handmade by survivors of prostitution, trafficking and addiction. Every product bears witness that love is the most powerful force for change in the world.”

Thistle Farms is in my home and heart. Every time i apply the body butter i can feel my skin being nourished and protected. It has been perfect throughout harsh winters. Using this product also makes me feel connected to the women who created it.

What I read changed my facial expression from curiosity to a waterfall of tears. A fire awakened in me for every person that has ever suffered the experience of sexual abuse.

In addition, I saw their hands in this product, healing, rebuilding and gaining strength together all in this little 8oz  jar of lavender body butter.

These survivors have experienced unimaginable cruelty in this world. Because of unconditional love and the support of Thistle Farms as a rope of hope, they have not allowed the past and it’s monsters to dictate how the rest of their lives will look. Thistle Farmers come together to create a powerful trajectory for the future!

I  purchase the body butter and want to be more connected. Six years ago i put their postcard up on my bathroom wall that states “Love Heals Every Body” and because of their demonstration, i have to believe that.

Meet Becca Stevens, author, speaker, priest, social entrepreneur, founder and president of Thistle Farms! Photo property of Thistle Farms

Fast forward to today…. we are now YouTube vloggers and I am a blogger.  Apache and I purchased tickets for an event in Memphis, TN.  It occurred to us that we may have seen that Thistle Farms was located in Tennessee. We checked it out and sure enough their home base is located right off route 40 which we would be travelling on.

A candle light that represents hope.

When Thistle Farms agreed to let us develop this content for them it felt like a divine intervention. Our gratitude is just in being able to learn more, connect with these survivors and spread the word of their mission.

Music is known to speak to the spirit. Dorris Walker-Turner shares how she used song to keep her spirit up and to help her remember all of the products she would be selling when she began employment at Thistle Farms.

What makes Thistle Farms an important travel destination?

Thistle Farmers

Thistle Farmers AKA the community of women you will meet at Thistle Farms are extraordinary.  They are what makes Thistle Farms the most important travel destination in Nashville,TN. As human beings we naturally gravitate toward where the good energy is.

Doris Walker-Turner, Magdalene graduate & Director of Events shares her powerful story and soulful songs of gratitude with us.

When we travel we always hope that the people we encounter will be kind and welcoming.  This sets the stage for the rest of the experience.

At Thistle Farms the energy is high, smiles are abundant and these Thistle Farmers are glad to be alive and thriving.

The first person we met was Jennifer Clinger.  Jennifer greeted us before we  got to the door. She came out of the building belting “AYE! It’s Ricky and Lucy!!!” followed with a boisterous and contagious laughter.  If you don’t know, we impersonated Ricky and Lucy in one of our vlogs. We knew Jennifer was our people.

Jennifer is a Magdalene graduate, Author and Thistle Farms Volunteer Coordinator. Her intelligence, bubbly personality, and full-bodied laughter made our visit so fulfilling.

The goodness did not stop at Jennifer.  She introduced us to what seemed the entire staff at Thistle Farms. Each person shared enthusiastically about their said jobs at Thistle Farms. We felt love within each interaction.  We saw how much love Thistle Farmers give to one another because they frequently verbalize it and sporadically gave each other hugs. Everyone seemed to work together as a family.

They are happy to be here. These women are walking miracles. Go get some of that Good Energy, it will set the mood for the rest of your Nashville visit!

Travel for the soul

Another reason Thistle Farms is the most important travel destination in Nashville,TN is because it will fill your soul.

We consider ourselves Thistle Farmers for life! Thank you Thistle Farms with all of our hearts!

Jennifer Clinger, volunteer coordinator proudly hosted our Thistle Farms tour sharing her personal story of how Thistle Farms saved her life. Her story alone will make anyone with a beating heart become a solid supporter of Thistle Farms.

This non profit social enterprise, founded by Rev. Becca Stevens in 1997, is a bath and body company run by the woman. Thistle Farms has grown from a chapel of a few volunteers and expanded to include global networks by the fidelity of these women survivors and selfless volunteers. This idea actually works!

Thistle Farmers returning to work after their lunch break.
Employees can become specialists in areas of manufacturing, inventory, bookkeeping, sales, office administration. These soaps are made by the hands of women survivors using natural ingredients.

The tour guides us through Thistle Farms history and amiable facility. We saw where Thistle Farm products are produced and packaged by Thistle Farmers-pretty cool!  The Thistle Farms model is an interdependent system. Survivors make a living wage while simultaneously helping other women to come off the streets. Book a free tour on your next Nashville visit.

Thistle Farms is staffed by residents, graduates of the Magdalene program and volunteers.

This is Travel for the soul. Thistle Farms is a travel destination that allowed me to grow in awareness and compassion for another’s journey.

On our tour through Thistle Farms inventory, we learn how suppressing systems can slowly begin to erode through the power of love.

The Cafe at Thistle Farms

After the tour, Apache and I were eager to try out The Cafe at Thistle Farms!

Photo property of ThistleFarms.org

The cafe decor maintains a clean, bright, contemporary farm house design which I absolutely love. I felt a connection to nature in the cafe with it’s refurbished dark wooden tables, banquettes and framed floral art pieces that adorned white walls.

Thistle Farms teacup ceiling arrangement is even more eloquent in person than it is in photo. They each hold their own story and good intention from the people who donated them to the cafe.

Tea cup donations turned into a work of art!

There is even a sweet outdoor patio to enjoy!

We had already drooled over their online menu at home. We wondered if the taste would live up to their gourmet menu. I see integrity in everything that comes from Thistle Farms, so i was pretty sure the food would be no different.

In The Cafe Apache is deciding what to eat from this awesome menu!

Nashville’s only destination for daily tea service

Thistle Farms tea service was a new experience for me. You might  think,”what’s so special about tea?” if your not a tea fanatic,let me explain….

The Cafe at Thistle Farms specialize in tea and is Nashville’s ONLY daily tea service. I’ve never been served tea British-style before. I normally just have some hot water over a tea bag. If your like me, you can expand on your exposure here!

The Moringa Madres Blend served British style delighted with a soothing aroma & earthy taste. I enjoyed my tea with lemon and honey. Moringa is a herbal tea that contains protein, reduces inflammation and is full of antioxidants and vitamins!

Watching my server prepare the tea had me wondering what was going on with it. There was a thermometer, a timer and loose leaf tea steeped through a strainer. The Moringa Madres Blend was poured into a lovely clear glass pitcher. The tea was served to me with my chosen tea amenities with elegant presentation. The British-style requires specific timing and preparation which i did not realize.

This experience had me feeling fancy! I enjoyed the Moringa Madres Blend, found it to be smooth, earthy and soothing with some honey in it.

Tea Time!

The Cafe at Thistle Farms is the only place in Nashville that serves Afternoon Tea. Afternoon Tea at Thistle Farms is offered from 1-2 pm by reservation only at least 24 hours in advance.

The next time we go to Nashville we won’t miss out on the Afternoon Tea. I have got to see the 3-tiered chef’s choice display of savories and sweets paired with their gourmet tea for myself!

This would make for an impressive date or larger party gathering. The cafe offers gluten-free and vegetarian options as well. Yes, you can even host a special event here.

Afternoon Tea treats! Photo property of Thistle Farms

Food prepared with love

If you want fresh, locally sourced, loved on food in Nashville, look no further. The Cafe at Thistle Farms is a travel destination in Nashville,TN you do not want to miss.

Apache got the new Chicken Fajita Wrap. Apache’s critique: “it tastes very fresh with distinct flavors that compliment one another.”

Chef Mark and Cook Donna will tell you that they actually sing to the food they prepare and honey believe me, it tastes like it!

Cook Donna imparts her favorite Lou Rawls song for foods getting rotated out “Someday, someday your gonna get old. Bless your your soul your gonna get old!” Looking back, us all laughing together about this its gonna be one of those memories i enjoy for years to come.

If you could savor love in your mouth, the food at Thistle Farms is what it would taste like- intentional and nourishing. True food for the soul.

Meet Cook Donna and Chef Mark creating healthful & inspired meals from scratch including the sauces at The Cafe at Thistle Farms!

The Cafe at Thistle Farms has a produce-driven full service menu. In our travels between Nashville and Memphis, Thistle Farms served up the most clean tasting and thoughtfully created meals in Tennessee. Thank the lord for giving Donna and Mark the inspiration and motivation! Apache and I savored every bite.

I got the Turkey, Bacon, Avocado on toasted brioche! Yum, Yum and YUMMMY! The meat tasted really fresh. I loved the addition of sprouts in this sandwich and it had a little kick with horseradish mustard.
Reminders that this is a place of love and acceptance are everywhere including the back kitchen wall “Everyone’s Welcome, Nobody’s Perfect, Anything’s Possible” Right! Right! and Right!
Thistle Farms cafe food! Photo property of Thistle Farms

Nashville destination for meaningful shopping

This was probably the first time i went on a mini spree without an ounce of guilt! In The Shop at Thistle Farms, the more i shop, the better i feel knowing it will make a difference. That good feeling didn’t subside after i pulled out my debit card either.

I found a bug spray that really works!
We purchased Jennifer Clinger’s book Delivered. Already I have opened this book a couple times to read only one sentence from any random page and experienced all the hairs on my body standing on edge and a stir of emotion in my stomach each time. I know this is going to be a powerful read.

I’m super excited about my new black Thistle Farms shirt and want to tell everybody all about it. Everything we purchased was high quality including their essential oils.

Super soft 100% cotton long sleeve tee, loving the feel, versatility and the message!

Their bath and body products are free of synthetic fragrances, parabens and petroleum based ingredients.

We have begun our Christmas shopping early this year at Thistle Farms! Apache and I thought this would be a great way to share the Thistle Farms word with family and friends.

Like i said, we are Thistle Farmers for life. This is our favorite non-profit charity.

We knew each purchase would directly support women survivors in creating a new and sustainable life for themselves!

One size does not fit all. I love to see a company making sizes from XS-3XL.

I believe Becca Stevens has created a system that demonstrates how the socioeconomic devastation that we see happening around us here in the United States could successfully be addressed. Love Rules!

The Shop at Thistle Farms
The Shop at Thistle Farms
Quite a few people are gonna be getting a bar of Thistle Farms handmade soaps this Christmas!

Reasons we will always support Thistle Farms and shop here in gratitude.

The Magdalene Program- A two year residential community dedicated to help women survivors of trafficking, prostitution and addiction. This FREE program provides the time and safe space for women to heal their body and mind for true recovery.

In the Magdalene program women receive free housing, healthcare and counseling for PTSD. These survivors gain employment and a supportive community. After graduation from the Magdalene Program women enroll into Thistle University. Thistle University provides necessary job skills including hard/technical skills and cultivates interpersonal skills to help solidify each survivors chance for success. Residents and graduates run every aspect of Thistle Farms.

Survivors hand pour these soy wax candles that are made with high quality essential oils and have a 35hr burn time.

Magdalene on the Inside- A Thistle Farms program for incarcerated women providing education, group therapy and transition into a Magdalene home upon release.

Thistle Farms Global- creates opportunity for economic freedom for women survivors of sexual assault and extreme poverty worldwide.  Apache and I loved hearing international stories of hope and seeing the products created by women artisans abroad.

 

Whoah! Welcome Mats created by refugee Syrian women using their discarded life jackets! #LoveWelcomes

Tragedy can literally be weaved into Welcome Mats (click here to read this mind blowing article). Becca Stevens traveled to Greece with her staff and volunteers with two looms. The goal being to teach Syrian women refugees how to weave welcome mats using their discarded life vests.

This initiative was created  to empower these women to support themselves and their children. This is the example of God i want to see as often as possible in life.

Thistle Farms has extended her hand globally partnering with over 36 organizations from 20 countries around the world that can offer safe work environments and fair wages with the development of women as their main priority.

The most important travel destination in Nashville, TN is Thistle Farms! People come to Nashville for the inspiration and love of music. Music comes from the heart, and so does Thistle Farms.

Visitors have an opportunity be a part of something so much bigger than themselves. At Thistle Farms we got to meet people experiencing their own personal miracles, learn, eat really great food and even got to feel good about shopping for this movement! Visit Thistle Farms and help to change the world!

Thistle Farms address: 5122 Charlotte Pike,Nashville, TN

“Community is the daily medicine that helps us walk through the fears we have to face alone” ~ Becca Stevens