This past Friday, we took our 4/5th graders on a field trip to Thistle Farms (a social enterprise of Magdalene). Magdalene is a residential program for women who have survived lives of violence, prostitution and addiction. Magdalene provides housing, food, medical care, therapy, education, and job training for these women. As part of their job training, the women manufacture and market organic bath/body products with Thistle Farms.
I was a bit apprehensive going into the Field Trip, worried about how appropriate the women’s stories would be for the children, but this wonderful organization proved to be an excellent place for the kids to visit. We decided to start our day off with lunch in the park then head across the street to Thistle Farms. Once we arrived we circled up our 20 students in their reception area and listened to two of the women’s stories. Both ladies told incredible stories of abuse and addiction. I was so proud of the children as they listened intently and asked thoughtful questions. The women focused on the importance of not using drugs by expressing deep regret at mistakes they had personally made. Mistakes that led to broken dreams. As I looked around the room at our students, I saw in them a realization that they could one day be in the same boat as well as a hope that they will be able to live out a “God-inspired dream”.
After we heard the women speak, we got a tour of Thistle Farms. We got to see first hand how the women make the products that are sold in their store. The kids were awed, and so was I. We got to see how they make soaps, candles, and lip balm. One of the children’s favorite parts was getting to touch the Shea butter used in the lip balm.
Following our tour and after many thanks, our group headed back to the park. We spent the rest of the afternoon playing soccer and enjoying the park playground. I am so thankful that the field trip went not only well, but spectacularly! I can only hope that Thistle Farms will leave an impact on the kids as it has me. I look forward to many more adventures this summer!