Alex Su, Director of IRelax, a company specialising in portable massagers and massage chairs viewed COVID as an opportunity to support the community. Through his Business Advisor, Catherine Cooke (via her experience as well as connections) Alex learnt of the organisation Hearts and Minds who are a leading community development agency with an integrated focus on wellbeing. Inherent in Hearts & Minds is the belief that all people from every socio-economic, age, gender and ethnic demographic have a world of wonderful possibilities within them.
Our Heart: Ensuring all people are valued and supported to achieve their full potential
Our Mind: Providing Wellbeing services – connecting individuals and communities to resources so we all thrive.
Wellbeing: When people have the psychological, social, spiritual and physical resources, within themselves and their community, to meet life’s challenges and thrive.
Hearts and Minds originally started out in 1978 under the auspices of Mental Health Service of the Area Health Board and in 1994 became the North Shore Community Health Network Inc (commonly known as Hearts & Minds). They are a mental health promoter providing community development, support, resources and information to individuals and communities, with an emphasis on affordability and accessibility.
Hearts & Minds has an extensive history of working inclusively with diverse populations in our communities, an early example in the early 2000s was the development of the first Ethnic Links Directory of Support Services for newcomers to Aotearoa, which ensured that new migrants were provided with the resources and support to make New Zealand their home. All service delivery continues to reflect the rich diversity of the communities we serve.
The current Hearts & Minds Hubs celebration of diversity is showcased by the 18 art panels that were created by community members from a rich diversity of ethnicities. Surrounded with harakeke weaving, each panel comprises of artistic symbols from community members countries of origin, with people coming together to stitch the art work each week and in doing so create meaningful connections and a sense of belonging in their new communities. This was an amazing project at the time and the panels continue to carry the message off social inclusion to all those who walk through the doors.
Alex Su saw a natural alignment of shared values – wellness, community and diversity inclusion. Alex is also a massage therapist as well as businessman and his primary focus in business is to enable others to live their best life through his product and the service his staff provide. What further drew Alex to Hearts and Minds was their focus towards celebrating & validating diversity. Through conversations with Alex, Catherine recalled referring an Iranian lady amongst other immigrants to Hearts and Minds back in 1994 to provide community and inclusivity support to those who have moved to New Zealand without any support network.
Alex himself immigrated to New Zealand 20 years ago and he knows first-hand the need to have good support to fit in to a new country. While Alex hires people locally, he also has been a supportive Employer to provide jobs to those here on work visas (with some who go on to seek permanent residency). He sees it as his responsibility to provide the best platform for his employees to work and live in the place they call ‘home’.
In October Alex and his advisor Catherine with Hearts and Minds being the focus organisation of choice and alignment, created a campaign for ‘Movember’ where IRelax would donate $100 from every full priced massage chair to support men’s health – primarily focusing on mental wellness. Drawing from some of the tragic situations as a result of stress from COVID and hearing his Advisor discuss the adversity on many business owners & their staff’s mental wellness as a result of COVID, Alex was delighted that he was able to personally provide $4000 to the Chief Executive of Hearts and Minds, Carol Ryan.
Carol said “it is quite inspiring the generosity of people, communities and businesses that exists across this country”. As well as a big “thank you”, to Alex & IRelax customers, she said “this $4000 would make a huge difference for many families who had suffered this year”.
More than ever businesses like IRelax supporting organisations like Hearts and Minds who play a significant role in the everyday lives of New Zealanders will make a real impact to the people they support.