Wander by the Chapel on the first Friday of each month from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. for everything from free trade coffee, chocolate and tea to roses, olive oil and jewelry—all part of the Mission and Ministry Center’s Fair Trade Fridays.
The goal of the monthly event—to raise awareness of how conventional trading can lead to the exploitation of low-income producers overseas—reflects how the Saint Mary’s College mission is lived out through the Center, a place for members of the SMC community to engage in fellowship and participate in service projects like Fair Trade Fridays.
Fair Trade Friday products, which are rotated monthly, come from different regions and range from the roses sold around Valentine’s Day to Zimbabwean baskets and handicrafts. “Our coffee, for example, is from Cafe Justo which is located in Mexico,” said Alexandra Carroll, one of the Catholic Relief Service Ambassadors who help organize and staff the event. “It’s a relationship we began through our Border Lives Immersion. We will also work with Bead for Life, a jewelry company that works with women in Uganda.” Mission and Ministry finds fair trade products to sell via research and connections made through various programs like Catholic Relief Service.
Fair Trade Friday arrived on campus partly due to Catholic Relief Service student ambassadors, who learn about what they can bring back to SMC. Each year, the ambassadors attend Catholic Relief Service training about the annual focus and what they are expected to bring back to campus and advocate for, Carroll said. “Through that we found a niche in the fair trade movement,” she said.
In addition to Fair Trade Fridays, the Mission and Ministry Center is also involved in service projects during the year, like the Berkeley Food and Housing Project. “We go and prepare dinner and eat with the men at the shelter, which is fun,” said Suzanne Denson, a student leader at the Center.
The Center takes pride in being an accepting community that embodies the mission of the college. All members of the Saint Mary’s Community are welcome to participate in the events, and to stop by the Center’s lounge area located by the Chapel. “If there’s one thing we want to be, it’s inclusive,” said Carroll. “It’s a place to find a home at Saint Mary’s.”