WILL Heart Association

What is the WILL Heart Association?

The Great East Japan Earthquake was the catalyst for the founding of the WILL Heart Association, a voluntary organization whose members are drawn from employees of WILL GROUP. This organization plans and operates donations and support activities for children. The Association is involved in a range of initiatives, such as providing extracurricular activities and educational support for creating opportunities that will make children excited about their future.

Background of establishment

Immediately after the incredibly damaging Great Eastern Japan Earthquake Disaster that occurred on March 11, 2011, the WILL GROUP did what little we could to donate to the affected areas. Many employees were inflamed with a passion, saying they were “proud that what we had produced was used for the world.” This led to the establishment of the WILL Heart Association.
This desire to help others spread across the Group. We believed that we could help by providing ongoing support with this mindset. This was the start of donation activities using a matching gift system.

Mission
Grow “excitement.”
Support children who believe the possibility of one’s own future,and march ahead to grow each and every day.
Vision
Generate opportunities for children to have an interest in their own future.
Name WILL Heart Association
Established July 1, 2011
Number of members/donations 451 persons/2,130 units (as of March 31, 2021)
Major activities Donation activities, extracurricular activities, and educational support that aims to provide support for opportunities that make children excited about their own futures
Officers Chairman: Sadayuki Dohi
Director: Yuichi Sumi
Director: Ichiro Shinohara

Activities of the WILL Heart Association

You can see the activities in the company newsletter “BIG SMILE.” Please be sure to check that.
https://big-smile.willgroup.co.jp/articles/?authorid=23
※Japanese only

Donation system

The Group has implemented a donation system with a matching gift system.

What is a matching gift system?

Under this system, when a company or organization seeks donations for social contribution, the company will add, based on a set percentage, to the donation according to the amount that was collected. The Company donates the same amount (100% matching percentage) as the employees.

Results of WILL Heart Association matching gift system

*Number of persons and units of matching gifts are as of April 1 of each year.

Support activities for junior high and high school students

The WILL Heart Association engages in assorted support activities in collaboration with learning sites operated by the Approved NPO KATARIBA.

Extracurricular lessons from the “I screwed up” teacher

The Association holds extracurricular lessons in which employees of the WILL GROUP share anecdotes of their own failures and what they learned from the experience to the children in disaster-inflicted areas. This program began from a desire to give the children hints and tips, however small, on how to approach life by talking about failures.

Comments from children after hearing the “I screwed up” teacher

  • I understood the importance of thinking not just about myself, but about others too.
  • By taking on challenges and overcoming your weaknesses, I learned that you can turn those weaknesses into fun.
  • I want to become someone with a strong mind like the “I screwed up” teacher.

*The extracurricular lessons from the “I screwed up” teacher began in February 2016. They are conducted each year in the Onagawa Kogakukan in Onagawa-cho, Miyagi prefecture and the Otsuchi Ringakusha in Otsuchi-cho, Iwate prefecture.

Summer camp for employees and children

The employees of the WILL GROUP provide a summer camp to express the importance of studying from their own experiences to children who are taking exams. In addition to the importance of study, children listened closely and took notes to learn how to attain the future they want and where to start.

Comments from children who participated in the summer camp

  • I had given up since I felt that studying was just a bother. But after listening to the employees talk, I want to move forward optimistically, not give up, and achieve my dreams.
  • Listening to the employees, I once again looked closely at myself and my future, and was able to think about what I would do. I want to take responsibility and believe myself, not simply follow what other people say.
Foreigner guide tour by children

Children from disaster-inflicted areas take foreign employees of the WILL GROUP on a tour of the disaster areas and towns in English. Even if one struggles to speak, the feeling behind the words can be expressed as long as one tries. By experiencing this, the children were able to enjoy themselves during this tour.

Online English conversation

With the impact of COVID-19 having made real life interaction difficult in today’s world, WILL GROUP employees become teachers to help conduct online English conversation lessons. Through these lessons, the teachers teach the children with a desire to express the fun of English and even motivate them to have interest in foreign countries.

Support for children at times of natural disaster

Activities overview of “sonaeru,” a support alliance for children at times of natural disaster

We have concluded partnership agreements pertaining to cooperation between local governments, companies, NPOs, and other organizations in ordinary times so that, when natural disasters strike, the swift support can be provided to quickly deliver quality educational support.


Overview of partnership agreements

In domestic areas hit by natural disasters where children may not have received sufficient support, we conduct volunteer activities such as by providing psychological care and educational assistance. WILL GROUP provides human resources, vehicles, and venues, cooperates with KATARIBA, and performs support activities for up to three months.

Human resources support
The Group performs volunteer activities to secure places of learning for children who lost them in disaster zones, as well as psychological care for children. These activities are performed for between one day to three months.
Vehicle support
The Group lends company vehicles during disasters. WILL GROUP employees and KATARIBA employees can use these vehicles.
Venue support
The Group opens up business offices during disasters. These venues can be used by WILL GROUP employees and KATARIBA employees as the center of their activities when they enter a disaster zone.

Actual “sonaeru” support activities

– Activities after typhoon in Nagano (October 2019)
Between October 15, 2019 and November 4, 2019, the Group conducted support activities to provide children a safe place in Nagano prefecture, which was afflicted with severe damage from typhoon No. 19. This was the first case of these activities after entering the agreement.

KATARIBA’s “Collabo-School Nagano” is primarily used as a safe place for children to spend time, but is also used for many functions, including recruiting and managing volunteer staff, and playing with children. With the support from local volunteers and schools, temples, and cultural halls providing spaces, we were able to provide a place for children to happily spend their time without being isolated.

Activities (morning meeting at temples and cultural halls/cooking by local volunteers/snack time)


– Activities after heavy rain storms in Kumamoto (July 2020)
In July 2020, the Group performed activities for around two weeks in Kumamoto prefecture, which suffered heavy rain storms. In particular, the Group worked in Hitoyoshi City, where significant damage had been inflicted. As participation requirements have become restricted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, local branch employees performed much of the activities as they wanted to help their own home prefecture of Kumamoto.

Since there were many areas affected and multiple evacuation zones, the Group took efforts in three sites to create places where children could safely and happily spend their time by securing places where children can be safe, providing learning assistance and play partners for children aged 5 to 18 (third year high school students), and providing consulting for children who were depressed due to the disaster.

Activities (operations staff/learning assistance for children aged 5 to third year high school students)


Number of support activities and number of volunteers

2017 2018 2019
Number of activities implemented 3 4 4
Number of volunteers 9 12 19

What is the WILL Heart Association leave system?

In August 2019, the Group established the WILL Heart Association leave system (allowing paid leave to be taken for up to three months per incident) so that employees could feel secure in participating in volunteer activities (*). The Group pays a portion of expenses related to volunteer activities to support employee participation.

*Only applicable for volunteer activities acknowledged by the WILL Heart Association.

Future activities

In order to create opportunities that will make children excited about their future, the WILL Heart Association would like to expand the scope of its support locations and activities on top of its current support activities.

Support target

Currently, the Group is donating to the Approved NPO KATARIBA, which provides places of learning and shelter to children in the form of KATARIBA and Collabo-Schools.

In addition to donations, the WILL GROUP is providing “human” assistance, a strength of the Group, mainly to junior high and high school students, in the form of extracurricular classes and educational support by WILL GROUP employees at the disaster zone extracurricular school Collabo-School (three Tohoku prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima), which is operated by KATARIBA.

NPO KATARIBA

NPO KATARIBA aims for a society where teenagers, regardless of birth and upbringing, can foster ambition and creativity to build the future. This educational NPO has been operating since 2001.

Name Approved NPO KATARIBA (Approved Specified Non-Profit Organization KATARIBA)
Established: November 1, 2001
Chairperson Kumi Imamura
Main activities: KATARIBA: Career learning program for high school students.
Collabo-School: Extracurricular schools in disaster zones.
b-lab: Secret bases for junior high and high school students.
My Project: High school students take on local issues.
Onsen Campus: Enhance the appeal of regions through education.
Adachi Base: Provide learning and shelter for children facing difficult situations.