Winna Denning has always been a strong believer in the powerful impact women can have when they are given the right tools and opportunities. She financially supports Thistle Farms, inspired by the staggering statistics and incredible transformations of the women this organization supports.
Founded in 1997 by Becca Stevens, an Episcopal priest on Vanderbilt's campus, Magdalene is a residential program for women who have survived lives of prostitution, trafficking, addiction and life on the streets. Thistle Farms is our social enterprise.
For two years, we offer housing, food, medical and dental needs, therapy, education and job training without charging the residents or receiving government funding. Women come to Magdalene from prison, the streets and from across the Southeast and the country. The women of Magdalene/Thistle Farms range in age from 20-50, and many have been sexually abused between the ages of 7-11, began using alcohol or drugs by 13, have spent years in and out of jail, and have spent on average a decade on the street prostituting. 72% percent of the women who join Magdalene are clean and sober 2 1/2 years after beginning the program.
After four months, the women find work, return to school and/or enter Magdalene’s job training program at Thistle Farms, a social enterprise. Magdalene also offers a matched savings program to help residents prepare for economic independence upon graduation. Women who remain in recovery two years post-graduation are eligible for a new home buying program administered by two local congregations and Magdalene.
Magdalene was founded not only to help a subculture of women, but also to help transform the culture itself. We 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.