Nonprofit Spotlight: Ten Thousand Villages

How did I find out about them?
If you have ever walked down Lake Avenue, or entered the Vons parking lot off the corner of California and Lake Avenue in Pasadena, you may have noticed a quaint retail store selling artisanal arts and crafts from around the world. Typically, you may find Pasadenians drawn to this store near the holidays. This retail space is truly the best place you can go to find the most unique gifts for holidays, birthdays or baby showers. Ten Thousand Villages has such a wide variety of items!

What is Ten Thousand Villages, and what is their mission?
Ten Thousand Villages is in fact a nonprofit organization. Sometimes it is hard to imagine that a retail space would be a non profit, but once you read more about them, you will understand their mission and how much good they do in this world!

“We create opportunities for artisans in developing countries to earn income by bringing their products and stories to our markets through long-term, fair trading relationships.”

Fair Trade is a process by which organizations ensure that the products they are selling are doing more than serving a purpose to the consumer. “The Fair Trade Certified seal represents thousands of products, improving millions of lives, protecting land and waterways in 45 countries and counting.”

At the very heart of Ten Thousand Villages, they are focused on helping individuals in developing countries. Ten Thousand Villages has four key areas to which they are focused:

  1. Ensuring makers earn a fair, living wage in safe working conditions.” The artists in the developing world are faced with various types of challenges. One of those challenges is making a living wage in order to help support themselves, as well as their family. Ten Thousand Villages ensures that the artist they hire are able to do that.

  2. Caring for the Earth.” Sustainability and preservation of the earth is another focus of Ten Thousand Villages. They are deeply drawn beyond just the idea of recycle, reduce, and reuse. “We focus on the use of locally sourced, recycled and renewable materials in our products.” In fact, the Pasadena store has created partnerships with other local organizations like, Sustain LA, to offer events where zero waste is a focus. (Let me tell you, zero waste is no smeal feat either!)

  3. Investing in partnerships that empower communities.” Ten Thousand Villages chooses to work with those “often excluded from the global economy.” There has been evidence that choosing to work with these individuals, makes their families and communities thrive!

  4. Celebrating craft and culture” the arts and crafts that are sold at 10,000 Villages are more than just art. These products are each individual samples of historical artisan culture. “We work together to preserve indigenous legacies while spurring innovation and designs that speak to customers who love craft and culture too.”

What is my involvement with Ten Thousand Villages?
I have only been involved with Ten Thousand Villages for a few short months. But, for me personally the most exciting news of it all is that I was recently voted to be the Treasurer of the Board of Directors. This is my very first experience with even being on a board. In my professional career I have certainly worked with board members and treasurers before, but in a very different capacity. So, I am not only honored, but also excited about this great new opportunity. I hope I can serve this organization well!

It will be an interesting shift for me to focus on finances from the perspective of a board member. I know this opportunity will prove itself to be a very good learning experience for me. My hope is to grow and develop alongside this organization to assist its growth and potential.

How to get involved?
There are many ways to get involved. One great way is to volunteer and provide assistance throughout the store. Another amazing way is to shop at the store. Additionally, Ten Thousand Villages Pasadena is participating in a storewide event for the Benefit Shopping Season, which goes on between November 16th through December 1st. The Benefit Shopping Season is when Ten Thousand Villages partners with other local non-profit organizations, schools, and community groups to give back to those groups by way of benefit shopping. Benefit shopping season begins today and goes through December 1st. You can make sure your Organization is involved by emailing the volunteer coordinator here. When you visit the store for your shopping needs, and you are checking out please mention a participating organization this way Ten Thousand Villages can donate 15% of your purchase back to your organization of choice!

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