Nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something.
I’m Maria Lyons, manager of the Ten Thousand Villages store in Victoria, BC. I started volunteering at Ten Thousand Villages in Victoria eight years ago, and now proudly manage a dedicated team of wonderful staff and volunteers.
Ten Thousand Villages was started by a volunteer 68 years ago, and has grown because of the enormous support we continue to receive from volunteers. Since the organization’s inception, volunteers have played a vital role in allowing us to pursue our mission.
Our volunteers are drawn to us for many reasons: to gain high school credits; to learn new skills; to meet new people; to give back. Many of our volunteers come to us because they have travelled abroad and witnessed the challenges of life in developing countries. Ten Thousand Villages gives teenagers an opportunity to work alongside seniors, and empowers people with shared values to work together.
Volunteers at Ten Thousand Villages are united by their desire to be part of social change in a tangible way. As a not-for-profit organization, Ten Thousand Villages strives to keep expenses to a minimum – and having volunteers assist in our warehouse, at offsite sales and in our stores surely helps.
A customer who came into our store last summer expressed bewilderment upon learning that he was being served by a volunteer. What followed was a great conversation during which Jo, the volunteer in question, described why she volunteers for Ten Thousand Villages.
Jo has been volunteering in Victoria since 1998. She started because she loves meeting customers and helping them find the perfect item. Beyond that, she loves volunteering for an organization whose mission enables many artisans’ families to send their children to school and have access to healthcare. Jo continues to volunteer in the store because she enjoys seeing the evolution of the products. Every year, new designs, ideas and colours continue to intrigue her. She loves the concept of Fair Trade and appreciates the opportunity to be part of it.
Although that customer entered the store unaware of, and apparently baffled by, our volunteerism, by the end of the conversation with Jo, he understood Jo’s motivation for helping at Ten Thousand Villages. More importantly, he saw through Jo’s eyes a larger social relevance to her purchase. No matter how geographically distant, the personal connection between our volunteers in our stores and the artisans who made the products overseas is tangible and powerful.
The contributions of thousands of volunteers across Canada make Ten Thousand Villages a truly unique organization.
Jo is an inspiration. Her generosity, in the form of her hours spent volunteering at Ten Thousand Villages, has contributed to our mission of providing livelihoods for many families around the world. If you ever need help finding the perfect gift, redecorating your home, or are interested in learning more about the artisans who make the products you find in our stores, just ask Jo! (And let’s not forget that she also regularly brings in cookies to share with her fellow volunteers and staff!)
Thank you, Jo, and all our dedicated volunteers. You are an essential ingredient in our efforts to bring Fair Trade products to the Canadian market.
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