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TAKING HEART

Size is no limit for Manulife US Reit manager's aid efforts

Its team has been involved in a range of community engagement efforts including care for the elderly, poverty alleviation and voluntary work.

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The Reit manager collaborated with Million Lighting in the Soles4Souls shoe drive and donated a total of 119 pairs of footwear.

THE size of an organisation may have little bearing on the impact of its community-driven initiatives.

The 13-strong team in Singapore of Manulife US Real Estate Management, the manager of Singapore-listed real estate investment trust (Reit), Manulife US Reit, is such an example, often punching above its weight when undertaking such initiatives for the underprivileged in Singapore.

Caroline Fong, head of investor relations (and chief sustainability officer), Manulife US Real Estate Management said: "Since our listing in May 2016, we have nearly doubled our volunteer hours from 52 to 98 by the end of 2017.

"We have also been encouraging our staff to utilise their two days of volunteer leave to participate in corporate social responsibility activities outside of work."

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Among the events for its second anniversary celebrations in May 2018, included an afternoon accompanying 20 elderly members of Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) on a field trip to the SEA Aquarium at Resorts World Sentosa.

Ms Fong said: "Knowing that the ageing population is a concern, we decided to focus our CSR efforts on the elderly segment which is also well-aligned to our parent company's research series Aging Asia, which looks into issues related to the the ageing population in Asia."

Such events with the elderly are organised and held regularly each year. Last year, the team accompanied 14 elderly members from YWCA on Duck and Hippo tours, where the seniors were taken on a water cruise along Singapore's iconic and historic landmarks.

In late 2017, the team joined patients at St Luke's Hospital in handicraft sessions, where colourful, individually designed fridge magnets were moulded out of clay.

The team has also been involved in community engagement efforts that extend beyond care for the elderly, covering a wider range of social and charitable causes.

In the lead up to Chinese New Year in 2018, the manager collaborated with Pathlight School's The Art Faculty to commission artwork of the Reit's properties, which were featured on Manulife US Reit's "red" packets.

The Art Faculty is a social enterprise that promotes and showcases the special talents of people with autism and those facing related challenges.

The team also embarked on contributing to global poverty alleviation programmes like Soles4Souls.

In December 2017 and April 2018, the Reit manager collaborated with local lighting store, Million Lighting, in the Soles4Souls shoe drive and donated a total of 119 pairs of new or lightly worn footwear.

The donated footwear were distributed to those in need in developing countries.

On its plans to make a bigger impact on society, Ms Fong said: "Instead of spending money on team-bonding events such as overseas trips, we intend to use that budget to organise more activities for our elderly beneficiaries and make visits to hospitals and homes."

"It is a humbling and fulfilling experience for the staff when we come together outside of the work environment to give back to the society. It creates a valuable form of team bonding," she added.

The Reit manager has more community-driven events planned for the rest of the year, which include a visit to St Luke's Hospital in September to celebrate the mid-autumn festival with seniors there.