Extraordinary Coordinators at UU Fellowship of Vero Beach

coffee bags on a sales table

This is the story of the Fair Trade Corner at Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Vero Beach as related by Pam Pelliccia. It’s the history of the UUSC Fair Trade Project at the Fellowship and highlights Gale Parmentier, who is retiring, and played a key role in the growth and success of their program. 

“It all started with a cup of coffee. In 2002 Social Justice Committee members Irwin Sadetsky and Susan Winters started putting UU principles into action during the weekly coffee hour. If UU’s drank coffee, they thought let it be fairly traded coffee to support small farmers and the concept of decent wages. Susan and Irwin, as part of the Social Justice Committee began purchasing organic coffee from Equal Exchange fair trade cooperative to serve during coffee hour. The coffee was so enjoyed by our congregants that it was decided to offer it for sale to help cover the cost of serving not just a cup of coffee but a “just” coffee. A small card table was set up in the back corner of the 43rd Avenue multipurpose room and thus the Fair Trade Corner name evolved. Soon decaf, whole bean coffee, tea, hot chocolate and chocolate bars were added.  

When we moved in 2005 and our church expanded, it included the current Fair Trade Corner. Our inventory grew to include many additional items like olive oil, chocolate chips, and baking cocoa. 

Our sales increased to cover the cost of serving organic, fair trade coffee, tea & hot chocolate at coffee hour and at other UU social activities and to also provide funding for environmentally sustainable improvements to our UU building. Now you might be wondering how in the world did the Fair Trade Corner evolve from a small card table to the 330 sq ft space it currently occupies. Susan Winters was the founder, and many have helped, but another has been the heart, the soul, and the driving force. This other is Gale Parmentier.  Member Jennifer Hadel shared, ‘I have to say that I worked in Fair Trade with Gale for a good number of years and have the greatest respect for her.  She is amazing.  Her commitment to Fair Trade and her energy, dedication and enthusiasm can’t be equaled.’

And former member Cindi Jorgensen shared these thoughts about Gale: ‘Anyone who knows Gale knows her meticulous nature. Price tags are painstakingly placed straight! Items are arranged artistically! When I first came to UUFVB, she was the person who welcomed me and allowed me to become part of the FTC group. She gave me purpose and a way to become part of the cool kids. Our community owes her a mountain of thanks.’”

In nearly 20 years of support of the UUSC Fair Trade project at Equal Exchange, UUFVB has consistently been among our top faith-based customers in the US thanks to Susan, Irwin, Gale, Pam and others in the congregation. While many programs shut down during the pandemic last year UUFVB kept the flame burning and purchased over $3,000 worth of Equal Exchange products due to their energy in adapting their fair trade program. We are sincerely grateful for their commitment and enthusiasm for justice.

If you’d like to share your story with the Equal Exchange community please submit your details here.

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