Every Child is Special

Herman Miller farewells its President of International, helping underprivileged and special needs kids in India at the same time. | 01.Aug.18

Herman Miller believes wholeheartedly in giving back to the communities it works in. As part of this approach, every year the Herman Miller Care team encourages every employee to engage in community welfare and volunteering activities.

When it comes to volunteering activities in India, helping underprivileged children is a key focus for Herman Miller. And on 3 July 2018, Herman Miller India’s mission was twofold: partner with the Hope Foundation to help schoolchildren, and give Andrew Lock, President of Herman Miller International, a fitting farewell as he prepares to retire after 28 years of fruitful service to the brand. Mr. Lock has always shown a keen interest in volunteering activities in India – particularly in relation to activities that help build a positive future for children living in remote areas.

Hope Foundation School, Bangalore

The Herman Miller team discovered the immense joy of spending a day with children when they decided to volunteer at a school on Tannery Road, Bangalore, run by the Hope Foundation.

On 3 July, the day began with a formal welcome from the school’s teachers and management, followed by a tree-planting session: Herman Miller team planted lots of saplings. Next up, the volunteers led a series of pep talks and discussions, teaching the kids about the importance of education, environmental conservation, career counselling, health and hygiene, and more. To make it more fun and interactive for the children the sessions included role play and activities that the children thoroughly enjoyed.

Herman Miller’s employees with art and design background painted the school’s walls, giving it a vibrant new look, while another set of staff helped out in the kitchen, cutting vegetables and serving the kids food. Serving the children and eating alongside them was a particularly moving experience for Herman Miller’s staff; it’s an experience they will cherish for a long time.

To wrap up the day, the volunteering team played a range of outdoor games with the kids, including a dance fitness session led by one of the volunteers. The children loved this, absolutely dancing their hearts out.

The whole day was a truly enriching experience for each of the volunteers.

Deepika School, Bangalore

At the same day, a separate group of Herman Miller India employees volunteered at Deepika School Bangalore. Deepika School focuses on children with special needs, identifying children with learning disabilities, autism and developmental disorders in their early years and providing holistic remedial training in order to shape them into independent individuals. With more than 100 children now receiving training and healing, the school is making an exceptional contribution to the Bangalore community, providing deserving children with much-needed opportunities for growth and development.

The super-excited students were divided into groups, depending on the nature of their needs. Each group was assigned a range of fun-filled activities, such as flower Rangoli, gardening, drumming, cloth-painting, and playing bean bag and ball were some of the activities the kids loved most. The kids’ energy and enthusiasm were contagious.

As well as being fun, the activities the students participated in offered opportunities for learning. They learnt about the importance of plants and the effects of globalisation; they drew different shapes, animals and characters; they played basketball and football; they learnt how to recycle waste materials (for example by painting fabric scraps).

It wasn’t only the children who learnt something that day: the volunteer team also learnt a lot from the children at Deepika School. The day wrapped up with a session hosted by the school’s principal and teaching staff on the difficulties these children face, and the opportunities growth and development that are available to them.

Financial assistance for school children

In India’s rural areas, it’s common to see children dropping out after primary education. Many of them are bright and talented, but financial crisis means they can no longer afford to go to school. It is Herman Miller’s aim to support these children, and to encourage them to continue learning.

Sharing this mission in mind, the Herman Miller Care team partnered with the Akshaya Patra Foundation, identifying 64 children from government-affiliated schools who required financial support in order to further their education. On 5 July 2018, the team distributed cheques to these children at an event held at Herman Miller’s manufacturing plant in Bidadi, Bangalore. The Herman Miller team and Akshaya Patra’s CEO attended the event, explaining the importance of education to the children participating, and telling them about Herman Miller’s scholarship programme.

For Mr. Lock, these three events were highly meaningful, giving him wonderful memories to take with him as he bids farewell to his Herman Miller family.