Hilton Group helps Jaro

The visitors at the book-binding department with
Jaro's General Manager, Annie Thomas [2nd from Right]
A group of General Managers form the Hilton Worldwide group shed their smart suits to take part in a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activity at Johor Area Rehabilitation Organisation (JARO) recently.   

Seventeen GMs from Hilton and Conrad properties in South East Asia who were in Johor Baru for their General Managers Leadership Meeting joined DoubleTree by Hilton JB General Manager, Simon McGrath, to exercise their CSR here.  They picked JARO, a registered charity that was founded by Dr Beryl Wilberforce-Smith in 1952 to rehabilitate former TB patients which is now a sheltered workshop that trains and empowers the physically disabled in various handicraft skills to equip them for employment.

Datin Patricia Lim [Right] introduces the visitors to the
tailoring department
Jaro has evolved into an established rehabilitation center for the needs of the physically and intellectually disabled, spastics, visual or hearing impaired, chronically ill and those who for personal reasons have difficulty in getting regular employment.  

Many disabled employees have benefited from the opportunities provided in the bookbinding, basketry, tailoring and handicraft departments while some who are trained, have found employment elsewhere.  Jaro is now an established brand and household name among Johoreans and expatriates who appreciate Jaro’s classic products created in rattan, paper and fabrics. 

Annie Thomas [3rd from Left] leads the tour in
the basketry department
After a brief introduction to Jaro by Chairman Dato’ Jimmy Low Boon Hong and members of the Jaro committee, the visitors were divided into three groups and taken on a tour of the Jaro workshop.  

In the tailoring department, Committee Member Datin Patricia Lim explained how disabled artisans are trained to sew and create useful fashion and household products like shopping and toiletries bags from Malaysian batik fabric.  She said that one of the popular products are the sets of batu seremban, a traditional game of five stones, that Jaro makes with batik fabric and are hand-sewn after being filled with green beans.

The visitors painting the outside wall
of the book binding department
Meanwhile, the other two groups of visitors were escorted around the workshop to observe the disabled artisans who are working in the basketry department and the book-binding department.  They saw for themselves how the artisans were engaged in creating quality products for sale in the showroom.  In the book-binding department, notebooks in A4 and A6 sizes are made from paper produced from farmed trees and memo paper are created from excess cuts of recycled paper while the cotton fabric covers may be custom-embossed to the customer’s requirement.

Prior to his colleagues’ arrival for their SEA General Managers Leadership Meeting in JB, McGrath, who was hosting them at DoubleTree by Hilton JB, had selected cotton fabric photo frames made by Jaro and placed an order for them to be custom-embossed with the DoubleTree by Hilton JB logo and the visiting GM’s name.  He wanted each visitor to take home a valuable memento of their experience in JB and felt that a handicraft made by Jaro would be an ideal souvenir.  This memento was made even more meaningful when the GMs had photos of themselves dressed in Malay costumes, framed up beautifully in the Jaro photo frame!

Quality Jaro products custom-embossed
as a meaningful souvenir for their event
At the end of their tour of the Jaro sheltered workshop, the visitors could better appreciate the fact that buying Jaro heritage products will not only help support the aesthetics and traditions of local cultures and native crafts but also enhance the dignity and independence of the disabled.  

Shopping in Jaro also helps to sustain the sheltered workshops for the disabled artisans and will add value to the local community’s eco and heritage interests.  They saw for themselves how the quality handmade products are a pride to possess and a joy to present to others as gifts and souvenirs

After the workshop tour, the visitors went outside and donned gloves, hats and even aprons before arming themselves with roller brushes for their CSR activity and helped to paint the walls downstairs, outside the book-binding department.  

There is no wall too high to be painted in Jaro!
Dressed in solid black T-shirts with the DoubleTree by Hilton CARE Culture theme, “WE CARE” emblazoned in white capitals on their backs, the visitors tackled their painting job with a spirit of camaraderie and enthusiasm.  With all hands employed to paint the walls a burgundy shade, they made short work of the job even as they paid careful attention to ensure that the dark edges did not stain the white frames of the doors and windows.

“We believe that it is the little things we do that create the biggest impact and impression,” said McGrath as this CSR activity was in line with Hilton Worldwide’s vision of ‘filling the earth with the light and warmth of hospitality,’ in the DoubleTree by Hilton CARE Culture.  He was pleased with the successful completion of their first CSR activity with Jaro and looked forward to a continued partnership where DoubleTree by Hilton JB may support the efforts of Jaro for the empowerment of the disabled community in JB.

Jaro General Manager, Annie Thomas [Seated Right] with the General Managers from the Hilton Worldwide Group
after their CSR event at Jaro
Jaro is located along Jalan Sungai Chat, between Maktab Sultan Abu Bakar (English College) and the Johor Heritage Foundation Complex, with retail outlets in City Square and Holiday Plaza.  The showroom is open on weekdays from 8.30am to 5.30pm, and closed on Friday, Saturday and Public Holidays.  Tel: 607 – 2245632. 

A version of this article was published in The New Straits Times, Streets Johor on 13 Oct 2014

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