Spotlight on The Third World Shoppe

| June 15, 2016
Jeanie Summerville

Jeanie Summerville

By Jeanie Summerville

What’s up, babies?

It pleases me so to introduce to you this week’s spotlight because it’s not everyday I learn about a couple who’s motto is, “Live simply that others may simply live.” I think that’s beautiful because they’re all about helping poor people from all over the world and right here in Fort Wayne, Ind.  To give you an example of the love (according to their documentation), numerous years ago due to civil conflict and violence, close to 1.5 million Syrians have fled their homes many with only a suitcase and the clothes on their backs.  Very few relief agencies and almost no government aid was arriving and so, they partnered with the Mennonite Central Committee which is a Christian Relief Agency, one of the few relief groups that has long-lasting connecting with Syria and the surrounding countries.  And, they collected relief supplies and cash donations with 100 percent of monetary donations going directly toward the program.  So at this time, all we’d like for you to do, is feel the love:

Marian Waltz and Jim Goetsch stand in the Third World Shoppe before several banners that say "peace." [PHOTO: Jeanie Summerville]

Marian Waltz and Jim Goetsch stand in the Third World Shoppe before several banners that say “peace.” [PHOTO: Jeanie Summerville]

“Hello, Frost Illustrated readers.  My name is Marian Waltz and I’m the manager of the Third World Shoppe. The other worker here is Jim Goetsch, who is the administrator and he’s in charge of the Print Shoppe, the book store, the building, fixing things, making lunch for all the staff everyday and paying the bills.  Third World Shoppe is a sub-project of “Friends of the Third World” and I’m a board member, the treasurer, volunteer coordinator and the book keeper.  The Third World, is an historical term and briefly means, those who are poor anywhere both here and overseas.  We’re located at 611 W. Wayne St., in downtown Fort Wayne between Broadway and Fulton.  Our phone number is (260) 422-6821 and we’re open Tuesday thru Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and other hours by appointment.

“How it all happened:  Jim is originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and he was the director of fundraising walk-a-thons in four states and we had a group of young people that were concerned about hunger and thirst in the world and in the United States and wanted to make life better.  So through the fundraising walks, we’d always donate half to an overseas project and half to the budget within the United States and each year, they’d research a different project for funding and, through it all, it was also a learning experience.  

The Third World Shoppe contains items from around the world. [PHOTO: Jeanie Summerville]

The Third World Shoppe contains items from around the world. [PHOTO: Jeanie Summerville]

“We went to Europe to visit and Third World Shoppe was founded here in Fort Wayne by Jim along with some other students in 1972 and was modeled after Shoppes in Europe.  I moved here from Michigan after I finished college in 1973 to help him out for a couple of months and we ended up getting married and we’ve been married now for 42 years.  And, since 1970, our purpose is to empower people all over the world to overcome poverty and our mission is to encourage positive action on the interrelated concerns of nonviolent conflict resolution, creation care and self-help programs to alleviate poverty.  

“When you first walk into this building, you’ll see, our Fair Trade/Third World Gift Shoppe that markets over 4,000 different beautiful and handy items from all over the world.  Sourced through partnerships with anti-poverty efforts in 35 countries such as hammocks from Ecuador, tea from South Dakota, pecan and peanut products from Georgia, straight from the farms, chocolate from Germany, pure Ethiopian coffee and much more.  We also have handmade jewelry, carvings directly from Bethlehem, beads from Guatemala, American-made products and much, much more from many places.  

“So we have artifacts and food from many countries produced by people who have been given an alternative which provides fair wages for creative work and everything in this store has a story.

“And, some people ask, why are we selling items and food from Kenya and Thailand—what about the poor in Fort Wayne?   We have trouble selling American made items in different countries because it will be to expensive and no one has the money to  buy it.  The store operates on fair-trade principles which focus on providing a fair share of the sales price to the artisan or small farmer.  Volunteers and participants take the show on the road to local churches, conferences and festivals making three to four presentations a month.

“So, whoever buys these products are helping the producers and everything is all natural or hand made and some of it is one of a kind.  This Gift Shoppe is providing economic living for the producers whether they’re across the street or across the world and I also make some things here.  Producers are the ones who make the products and some of them are organized into co-operatives and others might be connected with a church agency or schools and are associated with the Peace Corp that helps them get the items from the other countries to here.  It’s all fair, which is why they came up with the name Fair Trade and we buy from Serrv [fair trade organization] and we buy from 10,000 villages.  And, I enjoy working here and I wouldn’t work anywhere else because defeating hunger and thirst is what it’s all about.

“We also have a bookstore and printing shop in this building and we provide printing and graphic services for community groups.  We also offer job training and each of our programs are designed to generate independent community support for our mission.  Our printing program, titled Delta Communications offers printing for area churches, neighborhood associations and non profit agencies with students donating their labor.  Delta helps more than 300 groups produce news letters, booklets, tickets and specialty items.  The agency offers mailing services to meet current requirements.  Our Cooperative Training program offers nonperishable foods such as coffee, tea, cocoa, chocolate, rice and soup mixes with students learning FDA requirements to package and label high quality foods grown by small farmers who are paid a fair trade price.

“The Ethnic Directory is an essential part of the training program and is to create an Individual Training Plan (ITC) to chart progress and identify barriers to self-sufficiency.  A recent addition to this process has been computer stations, printers and fax machines to apply for or access assistance programs and seek employment.  We also teach them how to wait on customers, how to track inventory in the computer, correct and update mailing list.

“Our volunteer opportunities are to improve people’s lives and that can be the most challenging and rewarding thing a person or organization will ever do.  We are a small non-profit organization leading the way in making a hugely positive difference in lives all over the world.  We are in need of whatever help you can offer and here are some samples of the volunteer opportunities available here at Third World:  Assist shop customers, order from producers, graphic arts and web design, operate printing presses, weekly cable television program, media interviews and much, much more.  Why volunteer?  The rewards of volunteering far outweigh the costs.  It has been correctly suggested by many that a volunteer benefits, as much as, the people being served by that volunteer.  Why we volunteer?  To improve people’s lives, to develop valuable skills, to better understand the world, to work with really neat people, to act out our values and ideas.  We also accept internships and work study applications.  Because what the world needs now are not more problems but more problem solvers.”

Now in closing I say, fantastic job and I’m so proud of the both of you because you’re focused on and not giving up on the betterment of all mankind, in the name of love.  So until next week, you’ve been Up Close with Jeanie.  Bye bye, babies.

P.S.  If you’d like The Spotlight shined upon you or someone you know, all in the name of love,  just send me an e-mail to upclosewithjeanie@yahoo.com.  I’d love to hear from you.

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Category: Community, Features, International, Local, People

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