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Past Meeting Highlights

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   Three new members and a half dozen guests helped swell the crowd to 60 at the August 20 meeting. Congratulations to all for taking time to attend and strengthen our community.

   Before dinner Sr. Mary Peter Muehlenkamp led us in the Grace Before Meals. After dinner, Fr. John Sims Baker presented a reflection on the strong influence Mary Catherine Schweiss Strobel had on the remarkable life of her son (Fr.) Charles Strobel. We thank Sister and Father for their generous presence with us. Many of us were affected by the guidance and example of Charles Strobel while a pastor and while a community advocate for the homeless. His passing was noted by the New York Times newspaper.

   Next to the registration desk were testers from the Thistle Farms product line. Senior Ambassador Dorris Walker-Taylor was there to describe their manufacture. Here is the link to learn more about the life-saving work, make purchases or donations.

   Claudia Weber introduced Thistle Farms CEO Tasha Kennard who thanked Claudia for “reaching back” into their shared pasts to stay in touch. She used that theme to present “A Beacon of Hope: From Survivors to Entrepreneurs”. Tasha spoke about the variety of supports involved in saving women from wretched conditions of long-time trauma and how all the work is based on love and the creation of Sisters for Life. The work has grown from a few beds reserved at Room in the Inn across the US with 55 aligned organizations. Tasha referenced efforts in Ukraine and Botswana among the 40 countries where the Thistle Farms story of “housing first” is in play. There are 125 employees now, 50% of whom are program graduates. The website cites the history starting with founder Becca Stevens (assisted and mentored by Charlie Strobel), program descriptions and statistics. The mission is clear:

   Thistle Farms is a nonprofit social enterprise dedicated to helping women survivors recover and heal from prostitution, trafficking, and addiction. We do this by providing a safe place to live, a meaningful job, and a lifelong sisterhood of support.

   Tasha invited Dorris to address the group noting she is an author (“Hope is Always Real”), a singer, a storyteller, a mentor and the Queen of Bling. Dorris brought her personal story. She used one of the candles as a prop, pointing out that “It’s for the woman still out there. That light will cut through the night.” She said of the Thistle Farms family: “They love on us. Love heals. They love you back to life.” She describes herself now as centered, rooted and worthy. The organization’s name reflects the hardiness of the thistle – the survival weed.

   Dorris and Tasha were thanked with a standing ovation.            Claudia opened the business portion of the meeting by modelling her “cute and comfy” clothes purchased from member Darcy Bomer’s store, Cute and Comfy Shoes and Apparel. Darcy hosted a fundraiser for Pearls of Wisdom. The business meeting included reports from Treasury, Membership, Hospitality, Communications and Programs. The Pearls of Wisdom committee report came from co-chairs Courtney Conklin and Lauren Barca. They are counting down the available tables and encouraged everyone to register promptly. Courtney introduced Kaylee Franzen from Kendra Scott which is hosting a reception and shopping event August 23 from 5 to 7. The jewelry store is located in Green Hills, 4025 Hillsboro Circle, #505, 37215. Purchases made in the store at the event will donate 20% of the price to the NCBWL.     

    If you can't make it to the store, use code GIVEBACK-EIPKC online August 23rd-24th and 20% of the proceeds will benefit the Aurelia Varallo Mariani Scholarship Fund.

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        - Melanie Scott of Nurture the Next noted a fundraising event at Top Golf on 11/16, inviting groups of six, four of whom would be golfers. Her address is

        - Lisa Link reminded us of her availability to take headshots, family photos and senior pictures. Her email address is You can see samples of her work on her site. Also, The Nashville KKG Alumnae Association is hosting a Songwriters Night Under the Stars fundraising event for their Mental Health and Well-Being philanthropy partners on Saturday, Sept. 16 from 7-9 pm in Sylvan Park. Tickets or donations at

        - Diana Miller announced the National Catholic Council of Women’s Box of Joy® outreach effort described here. Diana’s email address is

        - Also, Paula Antonini, who represents doTERRA, has organized a Watch Party for the Annual Convention – sharing the fun with whomever wants to come!  This presents an opportunity to smell and try the essential oils. Text her at 859-473-3881. The event is September 14 from 10 ‘til 1 at the Camden Apartments Conference Room in Franklin. She will be serving a gluten-free, high protein, very nutritious (and yummy!) brunch. Bring your coffee!

        - Sr. Peter’s reflection on St. Mary Magdalene focused on her role as a disciple to the disciples, like Christ, offering love that transforms. She supported His ministry with loving presence. She also reported a new class of 11 postulants at the St. Cecilia Motherhouse.

     Announcements from the attendees included:

            - A prayer ask from Courtney Conklin for a mother of two young children diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

            - Sandra McSweeney is working on her psychiatric licensing at a hospital in Murfreesboro and asked for “sweaters, pants, shorts, yoga pants (all without strings)” for ages from 4 to 90. Sandra’s email address is

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