This week, we’re celebrating our partnership with Magdalene House ATX. Join us for their Amplify Austin kick-off party tomorrow from 6-8 p.m. at Lazarus Brewing Co.!
Kicking off tomorrow, Thursday evening, Amplify Austin will be hosting their annual day of giving, a 24-hour period dedicated to providing an easy and fun way for the community to give to local nonprofits. As Amplify Austin Day approaches, we are showcasing our partner non-profit, Magdalene House ATX and shedding light on their efforts to fight civil and social injustice in central Texas.
When owner Elle Worsham took over Gracious Garlands, she quickly witnessed the intensity of business around the holidays in this line of work. Though she loved the greenery and knew it provided for a great business opportunity, she also knew that giving back had to be built into the business model in order to make the labor worth it; she needed to support a cause greater than profit to fuel her passion for the business. It was just a matter of finding whom to support.
Elle began her search by asking Nashville friends about local nonprofits and scouting out missions that resonated with her vision for Gracious Garlands. A particular ministry kept recurring in conversations – Thistle Farms. This Nashville-based organization strives to heal, empower and employ women survivors of trafficking, prostitution, addiction and incarceration. Here’s how it works:
The Magdalene Residency Program provides a home for these women survivors rent-free for two years
Meanwhile, Thistle Farms, the social enterprise, employs the same women with the hope of teaching them valuable job skills and helping them gain financial stability
To close the circle, the Magdalene Residency Program receives the financial support it needs from the profits of Thistle Farms’ social enterprise operations
This Magdalene House model creates an immensely positive effect on the lives of their residents and leads to countless stories of recovery.
Upon finding Thistle Farms, Elle took action and scheduled a meeting with Peggy Napier, a dedicated Thistle Farms volunteer that had spent countless days investing in women survivors and helping out with the basic needs of the organization. After just one meeting with Peggy at the Thistle Farms Cafe, Elle was so moved by the mission of Thistle Farms and the tangibility of their success that she elected the organization as Gracious Garland’s first nonprofit partner. From that moment on, we’ve committed to giving 3% of our local profits to support Thistle Farms, along with offering their handmade products on our website.
After promising growth, and a few years of successfully partnering with Thistle Farms, Elle decided to expand Gracious Garlands and bring the business to central Texas. “In our expansion, I didn’t want to lose sight of the importance of giving back to the local community” says Worsham, “I wanted to be intentional about finding a place to give back to right here in Austin.” After extensive searching for a cause to give to in the Austin area, Elle came up empty-handed. Thistle Farms had produced so many stories of healing and success in the lives of women that Elle had developed a higher standard for what she was looking for and was set on finding a women-focused organization that would resonate with her majority-women customer base.
In the midst of her searching, Elle one day received an email saying Becca Stevens, founder of Thistle Farms, was coming to speak at St. David’s Episcopal to introduce the highly-successful model of Thistle Farms to Austin. After hearing Becca speak, Elle became fully bought-in to Magdalene House’s model and mission and soon after became aware of Austin’s effort to bring a ministry of identical model to central Texas. For six months, Elle fiercely pursued Magdalene House ATX’s President and Co-founder, Marion Trapolino as a friend and mentor and finally got the chance to sit down and talk about the potential partnership between GG and Magdalene House ATX. It was almost two years ago that this pivotal relationship began, which led to Elle’s eventual election on to the board for Magdalene House ATX in the fall of 2018.
Since then, Gracious Garlands has built giving into our business model and it’s become such an integral part of our mission. Our partners give us our daily ‘why’ for what we do. We’ve come to realize the significance of social entrepreneurship, as we dive deeper into the huge network of for-profit businesses that want to give back, too.
We strive to bring change to our local communities in Nashville and Austin, and create a ripple effect of change for surrounding areas by:
Financially supporting organizations we believe in such as Thistle Farms and Magdalene House ATX
Getting our customers involved by educating them on relevant civil and social issues
One day employing graduates of Magdalene House ATX and providing work and real-life opportunity for people who never thought they’d have the chance
As a small business, we try to do what we can for our beloved partner organizations. Our hope is that we’d continue to grow in relationship with these organizations and be of service to them as much as we possibly can.
Want to join us in the fight against civil and social injustice and help provide new opportunities for these women survivors? Join us this Thursday, February 28th from 6-8 p.m. at Lazarus Brewing Co. for Magdalene House’s Amplify Austin kickoff party and hear more about their mission and vision for providing a safe house in central Texas. Oh and don’t forget – your first beer is on the house!