Bangladesh Artisans

Waterloo Volunteers-edited-1080“Volunteers are not paid – not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless.” – Author Unknown

When National Volunteer Week rolls around every year, we take the opportunity to stop and think about how important hundreds of volunteers are to Ten Thousand Villages and its mission. At the Waterloo store, we are privileged to work with nearly 30 volunteers on a weekly basis. From university students to retirees, our team of volunteers is vital to our nonprofit store’s success, as we must work to keep our costs low while providing a high level of customer service.

Volunteers greet every visitor with a smile and a great attitude, helping to create the special atmosphere that keeps customers coming back. From unpacking our weekly deliveries (every Tuesday feels like Christmas!), to helping a customer find the perfect gift; from dusting and sweeping, to learning more about each product and artisan group; our volunteers are involved in all aspects of our store’s daily operations. When you visit a Ten Thousand Villages store anywhere in Canada, chances are very good that you will be assisted by a friendly and knowledgeable volunteer.

When we asked why they like volunteering at Ten Thousand Villages, our volunteers had this to say:

Nicole, a university student: “I like that Ten Thousand Villages sells Fair Trade products and empowers women and communities. It is nice to know I am not just working so that a company can make lots of money.”

Ashleigh, a recent immigrant to Canada: “I like volunteering because there is a purpose to volunteering here. At Ten Thousand Villages, I feel needed and appreciated. The more I volunteer here, the more I like it. There is a great atmosphere of community in the store. It is also a place for us to make friends. Ten Thousand Villages gives value to everyone involved: the volunteers, the customer, and the artisans.”

This week we celebrate the hard work and dedication of our many volunteers and recognize that without them, the mission of Ten Thousand Villages could not be fulfilled. Volunteers make Ten Thousand Villages thrive and are an integral piece in our Fair Trade puzzle.

Thank you, volunteers!

Stephanie Barth and Caitlin St. John– Waterloo Manager and Assistant Manager


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  1. Indeed, volunteers make fair trade programs work. I’m always greatly touched and honored by the hours of dedication volunteers give to both Ten Thousand Villages and the Bunyaad Rug Program each year, knowing that their work is creating change in the world. Their service is not only a gift to fair traders and the artisans they work with… but also a gift to others who see their service for indeed volunteers model what it takes to change trade systems… dedication, persistence and giving! Thank you volunteers!