Our first donation after establishing the Aura Cacia Positive Change Project last year was a grant to Thistle Farms, an organization for women who have survived prostitution, trafficking and addiction.
That grant in 2016 helped fund the development of a new program at Thistle Farms called Young Survivors. It’s for younger women who have suffered from abuse, drugs and prostitution. The program provides women as young as eighteen with a dedicated residential community where they can recover with peers who share their struggle and have opportunities to return to school and obtain vocational training. Individualized therapy and education assists young survivors in their recovery and gives them meaningful tools for a successful life.
This year, as part of our 2017 Positive Change Project donations, we gave $30,000 to help fund Thistle Farms newly expanded Graduate Services program to help women who have completed Young Survivors. The Graduate Services program helps the women remain connected to one another, the Thistle Farms community, opportunities throughout the Nashville area, and Thistle Farms' national network after they leave the two-year Young Survivors residential trauma and addiction recovery program.
The survivor-led Graduarte Services program helps women stay on a healthy, successful pathway after they leave the nurturing residential program, helping former residents deal with the challenges associated with life-long recovery and independent living. Even with vocational training and experience at Thistle Farms, women face difficult barriers to gaining employment and maintaining a recovery lifestyle. Graduate Services helps in the search for safe, affordable housing and offers participants access to emergency assistance with situations ranging from medical needs to home repair.
Thistle Farms provides advocacy services for up to 700 women yearly along with education and training through speaking events and immersion workshops. In addition to the two-year residential program, they employ more than 50 survivors in enterprises that include a body care company, a café, a paper and sewing studio, and a global marketplace called Shared Trade.