Your Stories: Highlights of 2017

We’re extremely proud of the work that our customers are doing to advance food justice, environmental sustainability and human rights in their communities and around the world. These highlights from 2017 were shared by some of our dedicated supporters.

Patty Sanders, Hunger Action Enabler, Presbytery of the Redwoods in Northern California    “The Pedal for Protein bike ride raises funds for often-lacking protein food at local Northern California food pantries. The 4th annual September ride was a 6 day ride traversing the coast, redwoods and wine country in Northern California, concluding in Santa Rosa with a one day ride for riders of all abilities and 59 eager riders. This year we raised over $45,000, all donated to food banks for free, healthy protein for food pantries. Many of our pantries are in rural areas of Northern California and many other areas devastated by the October wildfires. We also fund a international grant through the  Presbyterian Hunger Program for a hunger justice project. Equal Exchange donated to our rider “swag bag” and provided our host churches with coffee, tea and chocolate. We also sell Equal Exchange coffee, tea and chocolate at our Pedal for Protein promotion Sundays all summer, at Presbytery meetings and Holiday Fair Trade Fairs at local churches.”

Sara Pirtle, Student Alliance for Global Health at University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE    “Our Student Alliance for Global Health has been selling Equal Exchange products since 2001! We use the sale proceeds to help support our annual medical service trips to Nicaragua, Jamaica, and a Native American reservation. In May we took a service trip to Nicaragua. The accompanying photo is of two of our physical therapy students working with a handicapped child at an orphanage, under the supervision of the orphanage’s physical therapist. Our students appreciate, and so do our customers, that our fundraiser helps empower small farmers and growers’ cooperatives and also supports our efforts to improve healthcare in impoverished communities while providing valuable cross-cultural training to our students. A win-win for everyone.”

Paula Rosenberg, The Women’s Club of Albany, NY    “In January, The Women’s Club of Albany was delighted to have Equal Exchange chocolates to accompany Ellen Messer’s excellent discussion of “The Culinary and Cultural History of Chocolate.” Ellen skillfully guided the audience on how to bite, savor, taste, smell, and evaluate the components of each of the chocolates provided. For many, this was their first experience in realizing the complexities of various chocolates. Ellen’s presentation was also the first time many had heard about the history, process, and socio-political consequences of chocolate production. I believe there was a good shift among many to understand what they can do to support fair and humanitarian farming and trade.”

JenJoy Roybal is an artist living in Brooklyn and does communications for Episcopal Relief & Development      “Last February I took a trip to Nicaragua with Equal Exchange ​led by​ the Unitarian Universalist  College of Social Justice.​ Our delegation met with a number of groups including the all-women’s cooperative FEM in Esteli and Palacaguina. We had a chance to do a  home stay with the Cooperativo Zacarias Padilla in the mountainous village of Quibuto, one of many small farmer groups rolling their harvest up into what becomes Equal Exchange coffee. I always look out for the fair trade label on products and make an effort to support commerce that is holistic and just, but seeing a label and believing intentions is far from actually following the winding journey it takes to embody those intentions and coming to an understanding of what it truly entails. I learned that despite the many complexities involved in pursuit of this vision, that Equal Exchange is committed to fair trade on every level.”

Amy Meredith, Clinical Professor in Speech and Hearing Sciences for Washington State University, Spokane, WA     “I’ve been selling Equal Exchange products to raise money for the speech therapy materials we brought to Guatemala to provide rehabilitation services. We raised about $3,000 selling fair trade coffee, tea, and chocolate, which has allowed us to buy Spanish children’s books, special feeding spoons and cups, Guatemalan sign language books, low tech alternative augmentative communication tools, assessment materials, and many other items that help communication, cognition, and feeding. We see children and adults with a variety of disorders, such as autism, developmental delay, aphasia, apraxia, dysphagia, traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy, hearing loss, and cleft lip and palate. This photo is of a mom we worked with who has severe cleft lip and palate. Although the surgeons repaired her palate, she will not have good speech due to the age of repair and the inability to correct her jaw position. Hence, her speech is quiet and a lot of air comes out of her nose. Her husband is elderly with severe hearing loss. Our solution was to make her a picture communication book, since she is illiterate, and a Guatemalan sign language book, that we customized with pictures, so that reading the words for each sign would not be an issue. We love the people we serve. They feed our souls.”

Claudia Moore, West Highlands UMC, Kennewick, WA     “This year we ordered our first shipment of Equal Exchange products for our church. I chair the Missions Committee at West Highlands United Methodist Church. We were given a $5,000 gift from the death of a member. We didn’t want to just “use” the money and have it gone, so we decided to make the gift sustainable and multifaceted by supporting farmers and workers through Fair Trade and Equal Exchange, educate our church members and be able to continue that process with each item we sell and replenish. Our congregation is really enjoying the Equal Exchange products. We look forward to expanding our sharing.” 

 

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Bethany Karbowski

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