Everyday heroes: The inspiring story of Jean Winter
According to the World Health Organization, about 11% of the population of the UAE is disabled. This percentage corresponds to the WHO’s estimate of the global population of individuals with disabilities.
People with disabilities are often characterized as individuals that lack a certain something. The power of words is used in a positive way in Dubai, with disabled persons being referred to as “people of determination.” Jean Winter, an angel investor and serial entrepreneur known for her tenacity, was moved when Australian Paralympian swimmer Jessica Smith reached out to her about sponsoring a series of books that Jean saw as an opportunity for something bigger.
More About TOUCH
Jessica Smith, a paralympic swimmer from Australia, had contacted Jean to seek sponsorship for a series of children’s books she had written. The famous athlete, who was born without one of her arms, suffered burns when she was a child while learning to use her prosthesis. Smith wrote a trilogy of books aimed at normalizing disability after dealing with body image issues as a child.
Jean decided to be the sponsor since Smith’s cause appealed to her.
With Jessica Smith as the face of Touch, the first seeds of a new initiative began to develop, with Jean seeing the potential beyond the sponsorship of books and seeing the books as an educational tool for school children.
In an interview with Jean Winter, she revealed that the drive behind, not only Touch, but all her endeavors in life, is her parents. Everything she has accomplished and will accomplish in the future she dedicates to her parents.
Growing up her parents taught her that success and material wealth means absolutely nothing. Jean recalls her parents telling her “the day you pass away, no one will remember all the things you have, they will remember how much you gave”. She quotes her parents by saying “People will remember you for your actions and your words”.
At the ages of 73 and 77, Jean’s parents are still very active in the community. Jean writes that as a young girl she got annoyed when her parents brought home “stray people”, as she would call them. Back then she did not understand why they do it, but growing older and now being involved in the community herself, she gets it. Jean describes her parents as everyday heroes. Whilst growing up, Jean’s mom was on the board of many charities. On numerous occasions, her mother invited her to attend charity meetings. Attending these meetings changed her point of view on people. There she learned that one should never judge someone on their past mistakes. Everyday life and society have influenced us to focus on the negative of people.
When she was in her twenties her mother, whom she refers to as a visionary, encouraged her to start a cafe where she would employ recovering drug addicts and ex-inmates. At that time, Jean felt that she was not ready for that challenge, but the idea did inspire her to give a chance to those who don’t regularly get it.
Today, Jean describes her business ethos as “businesses with a heart”. With this operating principle, she states that she also only gets involved with and partners with businesses that give back to others. When Jean told her parents about her new business venture, they were so proud. Jean’s new company, Touch, is a reflection of an important lesson her parents taught her: “Darling when God blesses us with success or business, if we can bless someone else, we should not expect something in return”. Selfless love and generosity are two characteristics that perfectly describe Jean’s parents.
What Is Next For Jean
Jean mentioned in her interview that Touch, which is based in Dubai, has gone far beyond the UAE. Friends from around the world have been a big inspiration for her and have continued to support her mission. At the moment, she is also focussing on changing the world’s perspective on refugee families. Jean has noticed that people get desensitized towards refugees due to the negative image portrayed in the media. Her mission is to change the narrative by enabling refugee families to share their stories.
When it comes to her success. Jean dedicates this article to her parents. The lessons they have instilled in her and the way she was raised have enabled her to make the world a better place one person at a time. At the end of the day, we should all live according to the following words by her parents: “Success is nothing if you don’t use it to help people”.