‘A passion that’s exciting’

New generation of leaders steps up at MCC Saskatchewan thrift shop

January 15, 2014 | God at work in the World
By Julie Bell | Mennonite Central Committee Saskatchewan
Karen Ens, Sophia Kutsiuruba and Andy Arthur are co-managers of MCC’s Village Green Thrift Shop in Saskatoon.

Twenty-four-year-old Andy Arthur remembers the April day in 2013 that a factory full of garment workers collapsed in Bangladesh. As he did his job as assistant at the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Village Green Thrift Shop in Saskatoon while the death toll escalated, he wondered what he could do to help people so far away.

Then he realized he was already doing that. “I’m reselling clothing so people don’t have to go out and buy new clothes from companies using cheap labour,” he says. “We’re raising money [for MCC] to help women in Bangladesh do textile work in their homes, where they can be safe and with their children. Every action is a part of something bigger.”

Arthur has since been promoted, and is part of a young and dynamic team of co-managers at Village Green.

Karen Ens, 33, and Sophia Kutsiuruba, 25, make up the other two members of the team.

Kutsiuruba says the highlight of her day is meeting people who come to browse, buy or just talk. “There are people from diverse backgrounds and across the spectrum of income brackets and culture,” she says enthusiastically. “I see the humanity in all of these interactions. It’s my way of experiencing God.”

Ens agrees. “I am passionate about making Christ known and serving him,” she says. “I get to make connections with people and help those who are in great need.”

Erica Baerwald, the coordinator of MCC’s thrift shops in Saskatchewan, is thankful for the dedication of older managers and volunteers who have built a solid foundation at the province’s thrift shops, but is equally delighted that a new generation of younger people is joining the network. “They have a passion that’s exciting,” she says. “Their energy inspires me.”

Kutsiuruba describes her generation as sometimes cynical and non-committal, but says many young people are searching for a way to connect with the mission of agencies such as MCC. “For example, caring for the environment and reusing things: these are inherent to thrift stores, and you don’t have to sell that to young people,” she says. “There are a lot of them with energy to direct at things. They just may not know where to start.”

Arthur says that perhaps the most important thing that MCC can offer to his generation is hope. “You watch the news and say this world is so messed up, why do we even try?” he says. “But then you see that when we work together as a commu-nity, as a world, good things happen. Just those little moments of sharing hope can encourage young people to keep working at something.”

--Posted Jan. 15, 2014

Karen Ens, Sophia Kutsiuruba and Andy Arthur are co-managers of MCC’s Village Green Thrift Shop in Saskatoon.

Share this page:

Add new comment

Canadian Mennonite invites comments and encourages constructive discussion about our content. Actual full names (first and last) are required. Comments are moderated and may be edited. They will not appear online until approved and will be posted during business hours. Some comments may be reproduced in print.