A Social Enterprise? A Helping Hand! (Feature Friday!) (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Thursday, July 16, 2015

An exciting enterprise! A meaningful ministry! Those are two ways to describe the Magdalene community. Similar way to describe Thistle Farms! As I said in my blog post, an innovative women’s enterprise. Also a haven. Safe space. Place for healing and growth and nurture. Thank you, Rev. Becca Stevens, for having the vision to begin a place like the Magdalene community, and its companion ministry Thistle Farms! (You can read more about this wonderful place for women, below!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, July 18, 2014

God making a way

A Social Enterprise? A Helping Hand! (Feature Friday!)

The computer has made my world expand. And at the same time, get small. Almost like a small town. I’m thinking of several new-ish friends of mine, blogging friends and email friends. Friends I have never met, nor are very likely to. But, friends indeed, drawn together by similar interests and orientations, not to mention similar senses of humor.

One of my blogging friends is Matt Marino, an Episcopal priest in Arizona. (His always-excellent, and sometimes-snarky, blog is http://thegospelside.com/ ) He and I exchanged several comments recently, and he gave me information on an innovative women’s enterprise in the Nashville area. Oh, and it’s a mission, too! Started in 1997 by Becca Stevens, an Episcopal priest on Vanderbilt University’s campus.

Thistle Farms now incorporates a thriving business enterprise. I quote from the website: “By hand, the women create natural bath and body products that are as good for the earth as they are for the body. Purchases of Thistle Farms products directly benefit the women by whom they were made.” But that is just one of the end outcomes of Thistle Farms. The supportive women’s community is much, much more than just a bath and body product production facility.

This supportive community is also known as the Magdalene program, a residential program for women who have known abuse, prostitution and trafficking, drug and alcohol abuse, and life on the streets. Some come to the program from prison or from the streets, but all have in common the fact that they are survivors. Overcomers. One of the distinctive things about this two-year program is that they give the women housing, food, medical and dental treatment, counseling and therapy, further education, and job training. All this, without charge to the residents. (And without receiving government funding.)

Operating on 24 principles that were developed from St. Benedict’s Rule, the Magdalene community strives to live ”gracefully in community with each other.” This simple, practical guide to living aids everyone in the community—residents, staff and volunteers alike—to live cooperatively, building up each other and sharing in work to help the community grow. Be nurtured. Become so much more.

After new residents become acclimated to the Magdalene community for several months, they then start to look for work, return to school, and have the option of entering their home-grown job training program at the bath and body product facility, Thistle Farms. There they have the opportunity to learn worthwhile job skills in every facet of production, manufacturing, marketing and sales. The women learn responsibility and cooperation, which are the foundation for everything else. All worthwhile skills for life management, as well as opportunities to gain healing experiences. These experiences build up and nurture themselves and each other.

Magdalene staff, volunteers, residents and graduates “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,” as the website says. God’s richest blessings on this innovative, caring, nurturing community that seeks to give value to each woman they assist. (For further information, see http://www.thistlefarms.org/ )

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

(Suggestion: visit me at my daily blog for 2015: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

 

In Which I am an Advisor—Of Sorts

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, September 18, 2014

books image

In Which I am an Advisor—Of Sorts

I really enjoy teaching! And, talking with students. Advising, informal counseling, I am not exactly sure what you would call it. But I know I have a good deal of expertise in a number of areas. I would like to share my knowledge with others.

I don’t believe I ever mentioned this before, but a few years ago I worked at the graduate school of a university in town. For almost four years, I was coordinator and instructor for a small program in one of the departments. Part of my responsibilities involved not only teaching, marking weekly assignments, and interacting with students, but also advising, and working with students to explore the course material.

(Yeah, it was twenty hours a week. Yeah, I was only a part-time employee with absolutely no benefits. Yeah, I was dependent on a grant to the department, and when the grant ended, so did my job. And, yeah, I am still a bit disgruntled, because despite everything I truly enjoyed my job! However—consider my rant over. On with my current way of being of service!)

So, I am familiar with advising and counseling, and especially providing new ways of thinking about the course material. I enjoyed it, as I say. All of it! In my present work situation at St. Luke’s Church, I have the opportunity to again advise and encourage a young man. Tim is acting as our youth worker, teaching Sunday school and working with the five to seven children we have most Sundays. (He’s also doing this Christian education work as field education for his college degree.) Tim is going to graduate this December. He has a youth pastor job waiting for him out of state. Except—I see a few gaps in his college learning.

That’s why Tim and I are going to meet together every other week, and I’ll advise and mentor him during this fall semester. I am so pleased we can have this time together! As I said, I do enjoy communicating knowledge. I am so appreciative for those teachers and mentors in my life, and I always strive to be as nurturing and helpful as I can to those who come to me for advice or mentoring. I know many of the graduate students I assisted told me explicitly how much they appreciated me and my words. And encouragement. And counsel.

God willing, Tim will find what we talk about helpful.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Do I Hesitate Being Kind, Nurturing and Giving?

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, August 28, 2014

be a blessing be a friend

Do I Hesitate Being Kind, Nurturing and Giving?

I never met the man, but from what everyone said, he enjoyed his friends. He loved to visit with whomever came to the house, And with his in-laws. He was kind, nurturing, friendly. Most everything, most every character trait that was good, kind and generous. And now—this wonderful ability to be kind is gone—permanently. He is gone, too.

I wonder. I’ve been purposely trying to do loving, kind, helpful things for months. Taking opportunities for service, in fact. But—I wonder how many people hesitate to do kind things? I have a shameless confession to make. I know I hesitate, sometimes. Not as much as I used to, but the tendency is still there, clear as day. Just waiting for a fine example to inspire me? I hope not. I want to be internally motivated to be kind, be of service, and be helpful.

The bible verses I’ve chosen for each month are prompts for myself. Examples to show me different aspects of being kind. Being helpful. Micah 6:8 is one of the most significant bible verses for me, as I have been reflecting on it during the month of August. This verse from the prophet urges me to live justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God. Yes, I am encouraged to live in this way. But sometimes—I find I just don’t want to.

Forgive me, God.

If I have difficulty finding internal motivation, perhaps external impetus will help. Like, considering this man who is no longer with us. He was surely kind, generous, and warm.

As for me, today, I was intentionally kind to a friend I haven’t seen for a number of months. I asked after her family, and was genuinely interested in the answer! This older friend is very dear, and I was especially glad to hear about the moderately good health she and her family are currently enjoying. Yay! Oh, and we had coffee and conversation, which is always enjoyable with her!

The only thing is that I didn’t go out of my way to live justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God at any time today. Today was a paperwork sort of day, a day to catch up in the office, and a day to prepare for two services this weekend. At least my friend and I had a wonderful time this past morning!

I know I am going to continue to try to be kind every day. That’s my part. I know God’s glad when I strive to show kindness. God willing, I will, too!

@chaplaineliza

A Social Enterprise? A Helping Hand! (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, July 18, 2014

God is doing a new thing

A Social Enterprise? A Helping Hand! (Feature Friday!)

The computer has made my world expand. And at the same time, get small. Almost like a small town. I’m thinking of several new-ish friends of mine, blogging friends and email friends. Friends I have never met, nor are very likely to. But, friends indeed, drawn together by similar interests and orientations, not to mention similar senses of humor.

One of my blogging friends is Matt Marino, an Episcopal priest in Arizona. (His always-excellent, and sometimes-snarky, blog is http://thegospelside.com/ ) He and I exchanged several comments recently, and he gave me information on an innovative women’s enterprise in the Nashville area. Oh, and it’s a mission, too! Started in 1997 by Becca Stevens, an Episcopal priest on Vanderbilt University’s campus.

Thistle Farms now incorporates a thriving business enterprise. I quote from the website: “By hand, the women create natural bath and body products that are as good for the earth as they are for the body. Purchases of Thistle Farms products directly benefit the women by whom they were made.” But that is just one of the end outcomes of Thistle Farms. The supportive women’s community is much, much more than just a bath and body product production facility.

This supportive community is also known as the Magdalene program, a residential program for women who have known abuse, prostitution and trafficking, drug and alcohol abuse, and life on the streets. Some come to the program from prison or from the streets, but all have in common the fact that they are survivors. Overcomers. One of the distinctive things about this two-year program is that they give the women housing, food, medical and dental treatment, counseling and therapy, further education, and job training. All this, without charge to the residents. (And without receiving government funding.)

Operating on 24 principles that were developed from St. Benedict’s Rule, the Magdalene community strives to live ”gracefully in community with each other.” This simple, practical guide to living aids everyone in the community—residents, staff and volunteers alike—to live cooperatively, building up each other and sharing in work to help the community grow. Be nurtured. Become so much more.

After new residents become acclimated to the Magdalene community for several months, they then start to look for work, return to school, and have the option of entering their home-grown job training program at the bath and body product facility, Thistle Farms. There they have the opportunity to learn worthwhile job skills in every facet of production, manufacturing, marketing and sales. The women learn responsibility and cooperation, which are the foundation for everything else. All worthwhile skills for life management, as well as opportunities to gain healing experiences. These experiences build up and nurture themselves and each other.

Magdalene staff, volunteers, residents and graduates “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,” as the website says. God’s richest blessings on this innovative, caring, nurturing community that seeks to give value to each woman they assist. (For further information, see http://www.thistlefarms.org/ )

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

A Helping Hand, at Good News Partners (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, July 11, 2014

do_small_things_with_great_love-6382

A Helping Hand, at Good News Partners

I remembered something today. Something I haven’t thought of for a number of months. I remembered offering some piano lessons to several children, at reduced cost. These were not my usual piano students. No, these were children who lived at the Jonquil Hotel, a single-room residency building that is part of Good News Partners, a ministry that tries to make God’s love and caring tangible in the lives of those they serve. Good News Partners is located in the North of Howard section of the Rogers Park neighborhood, in Chicago just a few blocks from Lake Michigan. The other housing options of GNP make up a unique housing continuum, with a shelter, rental housing, and cooperative housing.

I traveled only a few miles, and crossed the border into Chicago. I transitioned into a neighborhood where I made sure to lock the car doors and be certain that nothing of value was visible from the exterior of the car. Just in case. Right near the Howard Street El station.

The families I worked with, for a brief time, were in transition from homelessness (or the verge of homelessness). The Jonquil Hotel was—and is—a caring, nurturing residence to build community and confidence among the individuals and families living there. The piano lessons only lasted a few months. I wish I had been able to assist some young people in learning to play the piano. But, I realize the tenuous situation many of the families are in. I understand—a little—what it is like for them to have fear, anxiety and worry as near constant companions. I can relate, because my former husband and I were in a similar situation when my oldest two children were small, before they entered school. No firm or continuous employment for either of us, for many, many months. But that’s a topic for another post.

I offered the children what I could—piano lessons. And, I was a kind, friendly face and voice that came once a week. Yes, I assisted with piano instruction. However, I also encouraged the children in other ways. I would always ask what they were learning in school. I tried to engage them in conversation about things they might be interested in. I used my friendly smile and my less-anxious presence (so valuable in the health care setting!) here, too. I never asked, but I do hope it made a difference in the lives of these children and their parents. God willing, it did.

This situation several years ago with Good News Partners came to mind because I’ve met another family recently. Not as dire a situation, but I was asked whether I could teach piano, again. Of course I can. And, I will. I hope and pray I can be useful in this situation. I hope and pray that God goes before me in helping this dear family, too.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.