The Faculty Benevolent Association (FBA) was a Christian support group formed after Tony Campolo visited Central College 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, 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.
In 1989, the FBA started a nonprofit international crafts store in downtown Pella. They raised money from local churches and individuals to fund the startup 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. As the original members of the FBA began to retire, they disbanded in 2008. Since then, the Work of Our Hands has been run by a store manager, a board, and help from volunteers.
In 2013, The Work of Our Hands moved to its current location. With an unexpected increase in profit, the store has generously given back to the community by donations to various nonprofit organizations. In addition, since becoming independent, The Work of Our Hands has not only supported artisans by selling products, but also by helping to start shops similar to ours across the country. Our interest-free start-up loans have helped start shops in Orange City, IA; Des Moines, IA; Hickory, NC; Rochester, MN; Mechanicsburg, PA; San Jose, CA; Richmond, VA; Harrisburg, PA; Tucson, AZ; Overland Park, KS and Iowa City, IA. In this way, our efforts have a ripple effect throughout the country.