608 Franklin Street
Our second location, from 1990-2004
602 Franklin Street
Our location from 2004-2013
627 Franklin Street
Our current location from 2013

The Faculty Benevolent Association

            The Faculty Benevolent Association (FBA) was a Christian support group of faculty and staff at Central College from 1983 until 2008. For most of those years they met every Thursday morning at 7:00 a.m. for breakfast in the college dining room. It was a social time together; with some heated discussions, often over politics; and discussion of their latest projects.

            The FBA was formed after Tony Campolo visited Central in 1983 for the Staley Lectures and described his weekly support group, who simplified their lives and pooled resources for projects in Haiti. Using Campolo's words as the model, most of the members contributed to the FBA through payroll deductions.

            The FBA sponsored or supported hundreds of projects, often oriented toward Latin America, because many of the members taught in or visited the Central program in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico. For example, in the 1980's five successive Central American refugee families or individuals were sponsored as they were on their way to resettlement in Canada through the Overground Railroad. They provided housing, food, work, social support, and legal aid to these families while they lived in Pella for six months or more, as well as transportation to their new homes in Canada.

            In 1989 the FBA started a nonprofit international crafts store in downtown Pella. They raised money from local churches and individuals to fund the start up of The Work of Our Hands, whose purpose is to provide jobs at fair wages for artisans from the poorest countries of the world. The store has been successful because the Pella community has embraced it as a nonprofit ecumenical mission project with volunteers from many Pella churches working every month.

More recently, the FBA sponsored delegations to Latin America; working with Witness for Peace and Habitat for Humanity. They also supported Human Rights through the Guatemala Accompaniment Project to support the indigenous people of Chacula (Nueva Esperanza) as they create a new community in their native country after living in refugee camps in Mexico for 15 years.

            The FBA had a large group of supporters on campus. They called on students and faculty whenever financial aid or volunteer assistance was needed. For example, each year students gave up their meals in the dining hall for a day, providing food and educational scholarships in Chacula. In 1999, members of the FBA helped to raise $10,500 through concerts to benefit Hurricane Mitch victims in Nicaragua. We supported many international students at Central, and from 2000-2004 faculty and staff helped pay for the tuition and expenses of Maria Tunchez, the daughter of one of our Overground Railroad families of the 1980's. Through these contacts with the people of Latin America, they expressed their interest in and solidarity with these international students, and enriched their own lives at the same time.

            As the original members of the FBA began to retire, and Central College began to change to more of a service learning focus, the FBA disbanded and The Work of Our Hands became the FBA doing business as The Work of Our Hands.