Hammonton's Amy Menzel got an education in fair trade when she worked for the American Friends Service Committee in Philadelphia from 2004 to 2006.
She worked in the peace-building unit with social justice activists.
"It rubs off and you can't help but get fired up about issues around the world," she said.
So when she returned to work for the Atlantic County Utilities Authority in 2006 - she previously worked in its finance department - Menzel joined the South Jersey Fair Trade Alliance. For several years, she has been instrumental in running its international gift fair each December.
Fair trade guarantees small farmers and artisans in developing countries a fair price for their products, and by linking them directly with markets, those in co-ops earn three to five times more then they would otherwise, according to southjerseyfairtrade.org.
Menzel recently went on a weeklong trip to Mexico, organized by Fair Trade Towns USA and Global Exchange, two leaders in the national movement. She visited coffee, honey, weaving and woodcarving cooperatives in Oaxaca and Chiapas with about 15 other activists from around the U.S.
Co-ops are democratically run by growers and artisans. They pool some funds for community projects such as improving schools, health care and housing, Menzel said.
"It really makes a huge difference," she said. "I knew that, but to go to Mexico and see it in action was really powerful."
Menzel, now ACUA communications manager, and husband, John, have a son, Eric, 12.
'Rocky Horror Show'
Kelly Kulisek and Kevin Smith, both of Ocean City, play Columbia and Eddie in the Ocean City Repertory Theater production of "The Rocky Horror Show," 10 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays through Aug. 31.
Tickets are $15 (mature subject matter and language). Call Producing Artistic Director Flossi Micciolo at 609-457-6686.
Shore leadership award
Surgical Services Manager of Clinical Development Nancy Bellucci, of Somers Point, has been given Shore Medical Center's Second Quarter Leadership Profile Award.
Bellucci joined Shore in 2011 and has acclimated staff to the new surgical pavilion; organized two surgical symposiums; designed and directed the PeriOperative Bridge Program to transition staff from floor nursing to operating room specialists; and earned a master's of science degree in nursing education from Thomas Edison State College in Trenton.
Bellucci and her husband, Joe, have three sons, Joe, 27; Lou, 25; and TJ, 24.