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Partnership turns into friendship

What started out as a two-year partnership has turned into a long-term relationship between The Warehouse and The Hearing House.

The Warehouse began supporting The Hearing House in 2013. A group of stores, known as Region 8, were carrying out a two year campaign to raise $76,400 to fund the Whanau Room in The Stichbury Bidwill Centre.

Six years later the relationship continues and The Warehouse has raised a total of $331,632 for The Hearing House.

Through Add a Dollar campaigns in stores, a quiz night and a netball tournament they have also funded the playground at the Joyce Fisher Preschool (owned by The Hearing House) and a paediatric sound booth.

The Stichbury Bidwill Centre was completed in December 2017 and is home to almost 800 deaf children and adults who have cochlear implants.

Elle Amai has worked for The Warehouse for 15 years and initiated the relationship between the company and the charity when she was Community Champion for Region 8 and was tasked with finding a regional partner.

“It needed to be an initiative that enhanced young people and their families. Our region wanted to work with a charity that people hadn’t heard of. We wanted to help build their profile.”

Elle, who now works as Trading Manager at The Warehouse Sylvia Park, says it was also important that the charity was one that The Warehouse team could engage with.

Her research led her to The Hearing House and as a result of her presentation, her colleagues voted to support the organisation.

“Our first initiative was funding the Whanau Room – that was a 2 year partnership. It was effortless because our stores, regions and managers got on board.”

The regional store managers and team members were invited to The Hearing House so they could learn more about the work the organisation does for deaf people with cochlear implants and it’s dreams for the future.

With this information, the teams were able to go back to their stores and raise money via the Add a Dollar Campaign.

“The more team members knew, the more confident they became to talk about it with customers.

“It was all about the children. It was about providing for the kids. The kids really touched my heart – and the hearts of our region.”

Elle says her highlights of the partnership with The Hearing House include playing the role of Santa’s Elf at the annual Christmas parties, and promoting and participating in the national fundraiser Loud Shirt Day.

“The best thing was when we were invited to a graduation. The kids had their stories and it was ‘wow, we’re helping this charity be successful’. And hearing the children and the parents and the changes in their lives……”

Elle says The Hearing House also gave back to the region.

The Hearing House staff attended The Warehouse team meetings, prizes were given to the top fundraisers, and the two groups joined forces for a community park clean up.

The Warehouse has also made in-kind donations worth thousands of dollars to The Hearing House. Stores have gifted the books children receive from Santa each Christmas, supplies for the annual families picnic, prizes to raffle at fundraising events, and resources such as toys and board games for the paediatric and adult programmes.

“Our relationship with The Hearing House has been fantastic. It’s a mutual friendship, a beautiful relationship and partnership. We’ve got some beautiful memories.”

Royal Oak store manager Tim Lane moved from the UK to New Zealand three years ago and has continued the in-kind relationship between the company and the charity.

“Coming to New Zealand and seeing what The Warehouse does for the community tugged at the heart strings. It’s all about giving back to the community.

“I came across The Hearing House at a Warehouse conference after four months with the company,” Tim says. “I thought ‘How powerful is that? How many lives can we make a difference for?’.

“Coming to The Hearing House, seeing the new building, and seeing what The Warehouse had done and seeing the changes to their lives…for me it was a no brainer.”

Tim says dressing up as an Elf for the Christmas party was “so much fun”.

“To see their faces when we gave them a book…’s a great thing to do.”

Tim says he and his Warehouse colleagues are more than happy to continue supporting The Hearing House.

“What The Hearing House does – it’s having a massive impact on lives. Without the work that they do their clients’ lives would be totally different.”

Former Hearing House Chief Executive Scott Johnston says the generosity of The Warehouse team members and their customers has been staggering.

“We’ve been able to achieve so much thanks to their willingness to support us, and their enthusiasm for the work that we do to ensure deaf Kiwi kids and adults can listen.

“We have been blessed, and we’re extremely grateful for The Warehouse’s generosity which has seen them fund so many aspects of our programmes.”

* The Region 8 stores are; St Lukes, Sylvia Park, Atrium, Botany, Birkenhead, Glenfield, Manukau, Milford, Pakuranga, Newmarket.

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