Love at Work
Memphis is a geographic hub for sex trafficking and the scene of significant prostitution activity. Thistle and Bee was founded in 2015 to help women survivors reclaim their lives.
Thistle & Bee’s mission is to help women who have survived prostitution and trafficking thrive through a holistic approach that addresses the individual needs of each woman in our program.
Our program has three parts
- Housing in a two-year residential community
- Wrap-around services addressing physical, emotional, educational, and spiritual needs
- Employment and job skills training in our social enterprise
We pay for this through product sales, donations, and grants.
Background on Thistle & Bee
We began in spring 2014 with a small group of volunteers. Inspired by Magdalene/Thistle Farms in Nashville, Tennessee, we set out make a difference in the lives of women exiting prostitution and sex trafficking in Memphis.
Thistle & Bee 501c3 status in May 2016. A Board of Directors was then formed and in 2017 professional staff was hired to implement a three-year strategic plan.
The organization began with a social enterprise based on keeping beekeeping and selling honey. We have since added super-premium granola made with our honey, herb teas, and beeswax candles.
Through a partnership with St. Columba Episcopal Conference Center, where the majority of the bees are housed, the Episcopal Diocese of West Tennessee, and local philanthropists, Thistle & Bee’s apiaries grew in summer 2018 from 13 colonies of bees to more than 80 colonies.
With a professional staff that includes a full-time Executive Director and Clinical Program Director, Thistle & Bee is now opening the program to more women.
Thistle & Bee offers women hope and healing through a holistic residential and therapeutic clinical program and employment in our social enterprise.
Thistle & Bee provides each woman services based on her needs. Our clinical program is two years, with aftercare available upon completion. The social enterprise offers two years of employment in a supportive environment, with the potential for employment and mentoring roles beyond that.
We are paving the future for the next generation. The women in the Thistle & Bee program are breaking the cycle of poverty and multi-system failure that has brought us to a place where sex trafficking and prostitution are at an unprecedented high. Successful graduates of the Thistle & Bee program who are interested in working with us after graduation will help the residents that follow them. The model works.
Thistle & Bee works with the community to place and care for bee colonies. The community at these locations hosts our 80 colonies of bees:
- Baptist Reynolds Hospice House, Collierville, Tennessee
- Church of the Holy Apostles, Memphis, Tennessee
- Immanuel Episcopal Church, La Grange, Tennessee
- Ravenscroft Episcopal Church, Brighton, Tennessee
- Second Baptist Church, Memphis, Tennessee
- St. Anne Episcopal Church, Millington, Tennessee
- St. Columba Episcopal Conference Center, Memphis, Tennessee
- St. Philip Episcopal Church, Memphis, Tennessee
- Private Farm Land, Millington, Tennessee
- Private Farm Land, Pocahontas, Tennessee