Author, speaker, priest, social entrepreneur, founder and president of Thistle Farms, and 2016 CNN Hero Becca Stevens returns to Shenandoah University on Wednesday, Nov. 8, to talk about Nashville-based Thistle Farms, a community of women healing from prostitution, trafficking and addiction.
Rev. Stevens will speak from 2 p.m. to 2:50 p.m. in Halpin-Harrison Hall, Stimpson Auditorium, on the campus of Shenandoah University (1460 University Drive, Winchester). The presentation, offered as part of First-Year Seminar, is free and open to the public.
“We are incredibly lucky to invite Becca Stevens back to speak at Shenandoah University,” said Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and Director of General Education Amy Sarch, Ph.D. “She’s become a good friend to the university and has inspired many on our campus during past visits. Her commitment to end the cycle of violence for women is inspiring, and she makes us realize that one person truly can make a difference.”
Stevens has been featured in The New York Times, on ABC World News and NPR, and was recently named a 2016 CNN Hero and a White House “Champion of Change.” She was featured in the PBS documentary “A Path Appears,” named Humanitarian of the Year by the Small Business Council of America, and inducted into the Tennessee Women’s Hall of Fame. She is the author of numerous books, including her most recent, “Love Heals,” which was published by Harper Collins in September 2017.
In 1997, five women who had experienced trafficking, violence, and addiction were welcomed home to Thistle Farms. Twenty years later, the organization continues to welcome women with free residences that provide housing, medical care, therapy, and education for two years. Residents and graduates earn income through one of four social enterprises.
The organization offers workshops and conferences to encourage communities to open housing-first programs and to share best practices. Through this program, it has developed a network of 60+ sister or affiliate organizations, which in turn serves more than 400 survivors nationwide. Thistle Farms’ global market helps employ more than 1,800 women worldwide. Products from Thistle Farms will be available for purchase both before and after the 2 p.m. presentation.