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Organization gives women in margins a second chance

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The Rev. Becca Stevens, founder of Thistle Farms, will speak at Trinity Episcopal Church in Buckingham, Thursday, Feb. 6.

Thistle Farms is an organization helping women who have been involved with prostitution and addiction to gain a second chance at life, having helped hundreds in its 20-year existence.

The event – “Love Heals, The Thistle Farms Story,” which is sponsored by St. Philip’s Church in New Hope – begins at 7 p.m. in the sanctuary and will be followed by a reception and sale of Thistle Farms products afterward in Faith Hall. The event is free and open to all.

After experiencing the death of her father and subsequent child abuse when she was five, Stevens longed to open a sanctuary for survivors, offering loving community to women who had experienced trafficking, violence and addiction.

She opened Thistle Farms in 1997 with five women. Today, it is a worldwide movement that continues to welcome women on the margins of society into a two-year residential program that provides medical care, therapy and education.

To quote from Thistle Farms’ website, “Love doesn’t ask what you did. Love asks what happened TO you.”

For many women, the route to prostitution and trafficking starts in severe childhood trauma. The organization maintains that these women are survivors and need unconditional love and support without judgment.

“Thistle Farms is in the forefront of the movement to change the way we see these women – not as criminals, but as victims,” said the Rev. Michael Ruk, rector of St. Philips.

His parish has led in raising up issues around human trafficking over the past several years, most famously with its annual February bra drive for the Free the Girls organization, a group that works with survivors in the Third World.

“We want to also highlight what is going on in our own neighborhood,” said Ruk.

“Love Heals” is the title of Stevens’ latest book and the motto that guides the organization. To date, that love has provided over 10,000 nights of safe, supportive housing, over 1,600 medical and mental health appointments and has led to 59 other programs based on its model of recovery, including one in Bucks County.

For information, contact Trinity Episcopal Church at 215-794-7921 or St. Philips Church at 215-862-5182.


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