The Lift Project

In 1997, Becca Stevens, an Episcopal priest on Vanderbilt’s campus, founded Magdalene house. Magdalene is a residential program for women who have survived lives of prostitution, trafficking, addiction and life on the streets.

Thistle Farms is their social enterprise.

Thistle Farms employs 35 Magdalene residents or graduates. While working at Thistle Farms, women learn skills in manufacturing, packaging, marketing and sales and administration. It is a supportive workplace where women acquire the skills they need to earn a living wage, support themselves and their families.

Thistle Farms has a need. In their manufacturing facility, the utility elevator has long been defunct. In fact, the elevator shaft has been covered with sheet rock. Currently, women must carry 50 lb boxes of product from one floor to another or push them around the building on carts.

A utility elevator would make a huge difference in their work environment, and increase productivity in their business. Ultimately, it is yet another way the lives of these women and their families can be impacted for the good.

Let’s get them that lift! Until it is built, all net profits from the sale of The Boy, the Kite, and the Wind will go toward a new lift for Thistle Farms.  Selling 2000 books equals a new lift! Check out the film that tells the story of “The Lift Project.”

Film by Eric Staples

Update: July 22, 2012.

As of July 22 The Lift Project was completely funded! Thanks to all of the generous folks at Cross Point Church in Nashville for putting us over the top by purchasing 1100 books on Sunday!

What the Digging is For

The day he was born, I walked outside with my tools and began to dig. I wasn’t sure why I was digging. I simply knew I must break into the hard ground to make it something it was not.

I wasn’t digging a hole. Rather I was preparing a smooth surface, free from obstacles, small and large. Daily I tore into the ground, breaking rocks into small pieces, cutting down trees, and tearing out roots that would find their way to the surface again. Sometimes my boy would work alongside me, not knowing what we were building or why, but glad to be with me and a part of the task.

I don’t remember the day I realized we were constructing some sort of path. Perhaps it was when I saw that it was not deep enough for a foundation and too long for a garden. The path was wide and never meandered. It was smooth and level.

There were difficult years, particularly when hills had to be cut through. But time and patience saw them open wide and finally welcomed the path as an old friend.

A few weeks ago, a little more than eighteen years after I began this project, I realized what it was. It was when my eldest son began to gather his things in boxes. And one by one, he placed them at spot where my work began. His belongings were all there – his instruments, his books, his trophies, his mattress – stacked up at the path’s starting point. As he stood there, tall and manly, he looked down the path beyond its end and toward the horizon, bright with the morning sun.

Then it came to me. There before us was a runway, wide and long and smooth. And he, with an eager heart and a long wingspan, was ready for takeoff.

This morning, we will load the truck and Hunter will be moving into his own apartment. For the first time in all of his years, he will be leaving to return only for visits. While my grief is profound, it is overwhelmed by gratitude for his tenure with us and with hope for all of his adventure-filled flights to come.

I can hear the pilot’s voice, “Ladies and gentlemen, prepare for liftoff.” It is a voice I have dreaded since the day he entered this world. And it is a voice that I embrace for all that will be his.

Al Andrews
Early morning
Moving day
July 1, 2012