blue monarch pen pals

Susan Binkley was a co-founder of a bakery in Tennessee.  She began noticing that many of the women who came to her for jobs were struggling with terrible home lives.  She heard tragic stories from these women who lived in her own town.  As the bakery thrived, she wanted to expand to be able to employ some of these women.  That, in a nutshell, is how Blue Monarch began.

Blue Monarch is a Southern Appalachian program created in 2003 to help women recover from addiction and/or abuse issues.  It’s a residential home in Tennessee where the women live with their children for 12 months.  It is Christian based.  The residents are given therapy, life skills, and employment training.  Broken lives are repaired.

There is a bakery in Sewanee called The Blue Chair which works in collaboration with Blue Monarch to provide on-site employment to the residents.  The women are employed at The Blue Chair to make the granola that is sold in markets and restaurants in six Tennessee cities.  Some of the women are also employed at The Blue Chair Café in Sewanee.  I have tried the granola and loved it!  I also loved the card included in the bag from one of the bakers.  She was on meth for 16 years, was homeless, and had lost custody of her three children.  She found Blue Monarch, and has turned her life around.  It was a very moving life story, and one that is full of hope.

There is a nine week intensive Work Ethics course that each Blue Monarch resident takes when she reaches a certain level of responsibility.  Once completed, the residents can obtain employment through The Blue Chair.

A few additional facts:

  • Blue Monarch is one of the few facilities that allow children to come with their mothers.
  • The most common age at which these women are taught to use drugs by a parent or grandparent is eleven.  Drugs numb their emotional pain.
  • Many of the women have been sexually abused before the age of  five.
  • Blue Monarch is an intense self-help program offering classes on anger management, nutrition, parenting, and other life skills.
  • The residential facility holds ten to twelve women depending on how many children they have.  The women are asked to commit for 1 – 2 years.  They must have completed the curriculum to graduate.

clip on You Tube:

There is a Blue Monarch pen pals program for the kids involved, if you’re curious.