Sex and the Soul week has come to an end, and speakers from Thistle Farms made it an emotional conclusion.
Founded in 1997, Thistle Farms is a community of women who survived violence, prostitution, sex trafficking and addiction. The main intention of the business is to help others — everything else they do just seems to be a lovely byproduct.
The name Thistle Farms comes from the weeds and thistles growing up on the streets where the women they take in have walked. The thistle is deeply rooted and pushes through the concrete and survives drought. It’s a symbol of beauty and resilience.
The business has a wide variety of ways to help the community, from offering a home to those in need to selling beauty products.
Thistle Farms started with a small recovery program, and then it started its beauty product business with a small lip balm and candle. The candle is the community’s most well-known product. It’s used as “a light for the sick and suffering to find their way home.”
The company’s slogan, “Love Heals,” couldn’t emphasize the community more. It’s all about reaching to women in need.
The speaker Friday morning was Kristen Beckham, 32 years old, now a retail manager at Thistle Farms, and her story is really what hit the heart.
She struggled with drug addiction at a very early age. The hardships she had to face are astonishing and she considers it a miracle and a blessing that she gets to live the life she is living today.
During her speech, she showed side-by-side pictures. On the left was a mugshot of her while in active addiction, and on the right was a recent headshot of her. She was so honored she was able to speak in front of college students.
“I’m so excited for this that I’m literally having goosebumps right now,” Beckham said.
During that time in her life, she was in and out of 13 different facilities, rehabs and halfway houses. She shared her experience with her abusive past relationships and how drugs became her only solution.
During her active addiction, she almost lost her kids and had to give them up for adoption. Now, she has a husband, her two children and one new child with her new family.
“My mother was about to give my children up for adoption,” Beckham said.
Beckham was amazed at what Thistle Farms was was able to do for her. They taught her many life skills, like how to handle her money. She was astonished to learn about budgeting since her experience with it was extremely limited.
“All I knew to spend money on were drugs,” Beckham said.
She was also able to go back to school and get her degree. Now, she reaches out to people.
Beckham lives by not regretting her past nor wishing to shut the door on it. Without it, she would not have the beautiful life she lives now — which is why she serves and spreads her experience, strength and hope around the country.
This article was written by Thomas Gotsch. Photo courtesy of Thistle Farms.