With its multi-award-winning sofas like the Jasper, Australian furniture maker King Living has been uplifting homes since 1977. Now with 27 showrooms across Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Canada, China, Malaysia and Singapore, the company wants to do more for local communities.
Ili Ibrahim, King Living’s regional retail manager of Southeast Asia, leads the team in Singapore and oversees its showrooms in Alexandra and Kallang. An avid advocate of persons with autism, she also galvanised her colleagues to participate in Walk of a Lifetime, the inaugural charity fundraiser by St. Andrew’s Autism Centre (SAAC) on 14 October 2023.
King Living was a Silver Donor – it gave $15,000 – at the event. Walk of a Lifetime, which was attended by more than 1,000 people, managed to raise $500,000. The money funds programmes and services at our special education school, day activity centres, and residential home.
“We had been donating to SAAC but we particularly looked forward to the Walk of a Lifetime. It furthers SAAC’s vision to enable persons with autism to lead dignified and meaningful lives, and we knew immediately we wanted to be part of this journey,” says Ili.
“Through their dedication and passion, the teachers, coaches and care staff have created a safe space for the persons of autism SAAC serves. We are deeply impacted by this work.”
By “safe space”, Ili refers to our Day Activity Centres (DACs) located in Siglap and Sengkang. To understand more about autism and challenges that persons with the condition struggle with, she even visited our clients to get to know them better. The opportunity to interact with DAC clients “have underscored the importance of understanding, patience, and celebrating unique perspectives”, Ili points out.
She remembers meeting Duane, first at DAC Siglap’s rooftop farm, “where he was so focused on his routine”, and then at King Living’s showroom where he and his parents had gone to purchase furniture, “so friendly… even said ‘hi’ to some of our customers!”
There was Kevin too. “Very confident… with a great personality,” she lets on. “He could tell the days of the date mentioned. He knew exactly the day I was born – incredible!”
Supporting individuals with autism such as Duane and Kevin, Ili says, is part of King Living’s commitment to social responsibility, especially causes revolving around children and animals. “It aligns with our core values to actively participate in initiatives that create a positive impact on communities, advocating for inclusivity and support for persons with diverse needs,” she explains.
Giving back isn’t just good for business; it’s also good for staff development. Ili says it encourages everyone on the team to become interested in what’s happening in our world instead of dwelling on the 9-to-5.
Like Walk of a Lifetime. “Witnessing the camaraderie and unity in advocating for autism awareness was a poignant moment for us,” she says. “It highlighted the power of collective effort in championing a cause.”
The opportunity to make a difference also enriches her as “a learning servant leader,” she confides. “It recalibrates my focus on staying empathetic through changes in our world.”
As a parting shot, what does she want others to know about persons with autism, we ask. “They possess unique abilities and perspectives. It’s crucial to recognise their diverse strengths and understand that they contribute in profound ways to our society. For them to do that, we must build a more supportive environment. So, a little more empathy and patience, everyone?”
Autism lasts a lifetime; no one should take that journey alone. Your donation can help us to continue to provide essential programmes and services to persons with autism, and enable them to lead dignified and meaningful lives. Details here.