Circle of Friendship and Support: Influence of Local Contribution Activity

CULTURE2022.03.30

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Naruse who works at JINS Ena has participated in local contribution activities before she joined JINS and even now. “Participating in various activities made me aware of my local issues, and that has kept me growing,” Naruse said. This time, we interviewed her about what made her participate in the activities and the details of those.

Participated in local contribution activities
to get used to a new place at first, now turned into a staff member

Naruse
Part-time Store Creator,JINS Ena
JINS JP (Japan Division)

I have been involved with local contribution activities held by a local NPO or a local government for more than 10 years as a staff member while working as a part-timer at JINS store.
What brought me to participate in those activities was my marriage, which made me move to Ena-city.
I was a total stranger in this city at first, with no friends or even acquaintances, so I wanted to get used to it as soon as possible. That’s the reason for joining local contribution activities. It was quite exciting to see the number of my acquittances rise through the activities. Along with it, I gradually became interested in the activity itself.

The first activity that I participated in was childcare support organized by an NPO. During the activity, parents and children who took part in the activity carried out origami and handicrafts together. And the staff members were all females, and many of them had licenses, such as hairstylists or nursery teachers, so each staff member utilized their own skills, like cutting children’s bangs and sharing advice as to childcare or local childcare situations, to expand the activity further.

I made so many friends there and was able to consult various concerns with local people about them, especially pediatrics and nursery schools, which helped me a lot. When it comes to childcare, it’s full of countless worries, so I felt a place like this, where people can share or consult worries, even minor ones, with someone else, is quite important. I thus participate in the activity as a staff member now and help to improve the ties between mothers and fathers.

Participation in support activities has opened my eyes to local issues

Since last year, I have attended a CSR activity named “Sasayuri café” organized by Ena-city as a representative of JINS. Sasayuri cafe is a regular cafe event for people with dementia and their families, where people can talk and consult with medical and welfare professionals and also communicate with local people.

JINS Ena has attended this cafe event and cleans participants’ eyeglasses and listens to issues related to eyeglasses. Elderly people love to talk, and they tell me many stories about their fields, their hometowns, their wives, and so on, haha.

Participating in such activities has opened my eyes to local issues.
For example, the number of families that have difficulties going out on a daily basis to nursing their family members is increasing in Ena-city due to a larger elderly population. Staying at home with only family members drains energy mentally and makes people feel gloomy. In addition to that, recently, opportunities to communicate with elderly people decreased due to COVID-19; therefore, a concern about an increase in patients with dementia suddenly arose if this situation lasts long. Through the activities of Sasayuri cafe and childcare support, I realized that talking to someone other than family members can encourage those who have fewer chances to go out due to childcare or nursing, even for a short time. So, I think it’s important to provide a place where local people can communicate regularly with each other.

Expanded my circle of friends and personal growth through activities

Besides, originally I loved to interact with people, but as I began to participate in local contribution activities, I started to think about what I could do to solve issues that I found from conversations between participants.

For example, even shy elderly people, because Ena-city has lots of people who have a farm at home, would be enthusiastic to talk about it if I asked about the vegetables they grow. From those conversations, I learned that those who have a farm are more concerned about blemishes and UV rays than eye issues because they spend more time outside. So, I occasionally give some eye-related advice to them, like, “I’m also concerned about blemishes, so I wear a pair of eyeglasses with UV protection lenses,” or “You won’t be dazzled outside when you wear these glasses.”

The reason why I was able to continue to participate in local contribution activities for more than 10 years was that I was happy to help the people around me solve their concerns and could also make more acquaintances there. I also wanted to give back to my community and give newcomers to this area the same experience I had. Through such activities, now I feel rewarded because I was able to help someone in this area while also feeling my personal growth.

Hope to launch local contribution activities organized by JINS and tackle it with the entire area

As I was recently discussing with the store director, I hope that in the future JINS can launch local contribution activities as an organizer and work together with the entire area.
I would like to create an environment that allows not only JINS Ena store members but also other store members to participate in the activities like eyeglass cleaning or adjusting that we have done at Sasayuri cafe thus far. In particular, Ena-city focuses on CSR activities, so I think if JINS can cooperate with the city and organize activities in and outside of JINS stores that bring the store staff members all around the area, JINS will be able to make a wider social contribution.

As one of the JINS Ways, “Work on your job while paying attention to the community,” making time to communicate with local people and talking with them as much as possible is the best way to discover local issues.
Conversations between local people make me realize what I can do for my community, and contributing to society will accelerate an increase in JINS’ recognition in society, which will also create a virtuous cycle, like allowing us to recommend eyeglasses to customers that match the needs of the community at a store.

As I often invited JINS creators to join activities organized by an NPO, after joining activities, even people who are not good at talking to strangers said that “It’s good to talk with local people,” or “I was lucky to attend activities.”
Presumably, the reasons for people who are reluctant to join local contribution activities are things like, “I have no idea what the activities are all about,” or “I don’t know how to start.” But just give it a shot and start doing what you can. To create opportunities for that, I would like to involve the people around me and make more and more colleagues by approaching them like, “Why don’t you come with us?” or “Let’s do it together!”

<Comments from Aoki, Area Director of Area 46>

Naruse is a gentle and impressive person who is considerate and accommodating when listening to the voices of customers at a store! I heard that even when interacting with local people, she is considerate and listens to the voices of local people. There were many local people who called out to Naruse at a local contribution activity for children for employment experience that I attended with her. That’s exactly why I think she might as well be a role model who can connect with the community and JINS!
Considering she will continue to participate in the activities rooted in Ena-city, it’s so reassuring, and I hope she will be a catalyst for those who want to participate in activities outside of a store or for those who want to do it but have not been able to take action.

※The department and area are as of the time of the interview.
※The contents of this article are the information on services and initiatives provided in Japan.

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