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Hats On For Awareness is a registered charity based in Vaughan, Ontario, Canada that is dedicated to raising awareness and funds to further the reach of mental health programs that enhance the lives of those living with and affected by mental illness and addictions.
It all began as a promise made 28 years ago when the Tiberi family patriarch, Giovanni, lost his battle with depression and took his own life. After his death, his daughter, Enza Tiberi-Checchia realized that she did not understand or know enough about depression and if the family had, they might have been able to help. It was then that she made a promise to prevent this from happening to other families.
In 2009, Hats On For Awareness was co-founded by Benny Caringi and Enza Tiberi-Checchia and today the charitable organization has raised more than $750,000 through its annual Hatsquerade Gala event.
The organization is predominantly run by volunteers including its Board of Directors and has successfully evolved from hosting an annual Gala to being a powerhouse fundraiser and year-round advocate for mental health initiatives in the GTA. To see some of the highlights over the years, check out our timeline.
As the Secretary of Hats On For Awareness, Tiffany Kohl oversees all of the outreach efforts of the organization. She drives the daily operations as well as the rollout of larger long-term campaigns to increase brand awareness.
A strategic, energetic and thoughtful leader, she has been involved with Hats On since its inception in 2009 in various capacities.
Tiffany is also the Manager of Events at the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) where she is in charge of sponsorship retention and development, creative development and management of fundraising events, educational functions and corporate meetings for the more than 1,450 member companies across the GTA.
She enjoys the symphony and is an avid reader and photographer.
Sandro Lafarciola is an accomplished businessman and the Founder and President of Spectrum Mechanical – Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Specialists. A leader in industrial, commercial and institutional sheet metal sales and installations, he has more than 20 years of experience in the construction industry.
After the passing of his brother, Frank, Sandro found solace in volunteering with Hats On For Awareness. He has always had a passion for helping others and it has driven him to be an advocate for the removal of stigma around mental health.
A relationship-builder, Sandro brings corporate partnerships to the Hats On Board in order to raise funds and awareness for mental health initiatives throughout the GTA.
Chief Visionary Officer (CVO), Co-Founder
Cultivator of relationships and a trailblazer in the growing awareness of mental illness, Enza Tiberi-Checchia is the Co-Founder of Hats On For Awareness and Chief Visionary Officer. Hats On was created out of a silent promise made after Enza lost her father. He battled with depression and took his own life. She made a promise to do something so that others would not have to go through what she and her family did.
Since 2009, she has mobilized the home-building industry to shatter the stigma associated with mental illness and addictions and Hats On has contributed more than $750,000 toward impactful programs across the GTA.
In 2016, Enza took a bold step to use her voice through a new online platform, her blog MI ETCETERA. It is the manifestation of her deeply held belief that our stories have the power to create understanding, support healing, spread compassion, ignite hope and create unity deeper than we can imagine. The blog gives voice to her journey and experiences through mental illness, healing, recovery and beyond. It is the tale of her lived experience of transforming family tragedy into triumph.
Enza is a successful businesswoman and was recently named a “Difference Maker” and one of Canada’s 150 leaders in mental health by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).
Robert Pellegrino is a Partner at KBFP LLP Chartered Professional Accountants. He has practiced in the areas of accounting, auditing, strategic business advising, among others.
Robert is a Chartered Professional Accountant and proudly serves as a Director on three non-profit boards.
He is passionate about giving back, especially for Hats On For Awareness and its mission to raise awareness and further to reach of mental health programs.
Owner of Sun-Brite Drapery, Benny Caringi is the Secretary and Co-Founder of Hats On For Awareness. He joined forces with his dear friend, Enza Tiberi-Checchia in 2009 to create Hats On to elevate the awareness and support initiatives around mental health.
Together with Enza, he has mobilized the home-building industry to support Hats On in its mission of mental wellness for all, which has resulted in the contribution of more than $750,000 toward impactful programs across the GTA.
A successful businessman, Benny is also a Director on the Board of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD).
President of Barbaro Insurance Group, Richard Barbaro has been a corporate and personal life insurance specialist for over 30 years. His family business, which also specializes in estate and succession planning, has a combined 87 years of experience in the industry.
Richard proudly volunteers for a number of charities, including as a Director of the Canadian Italian Business Association. He joined the Hats On Board in support of his young daughter, Lia, as well as several close friends.
Domenica DeSantis, B. Arch Sci., is a Senior Project Manager Construction and Development for Berkshire Axis Development. Previously she worked at EllisDon, Vanbots and Urbacon and has vast expertise in managing large-scale construction projects, complex budgets and the related municipal approvals process.
She has been involved with Hats On since its inception and has been a Director on the Board for four years. She is passionate about giving back and has helped to drive numerous fundraising and awareness campaigns as part of the Hats On team. In 2014, she was recognized by Hats On as Volunteer of the Year.
She has also volunteered with Villa Charities, Habitat for Humanity and the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) and is a member of the Toronto Construction Association.
A results-oriented professional specializing in sales, marketing and customer service, Stephanie Lane is the Manager, Sales and Marketing at Geranium, a multi-faceted land development and home-building firm.
As part of the award-winning team, she focuses on creating and implementing effective business-to-consumer programs that build brand awareness, generate sales and increase revenues.
Stephanie was recognized as the 2015 Volunteer of the Year and has been a Board member at Hats On since 2013. She is instrumental in the organization of the annual Hatsquerade Gala and continues year-round to advocate for those living with and affected by mental illness.
Barry Sacks, CPA, CA, is a partner at MNP. For the last three decades he has acted as an advisor to families in the real estate industry.
Throughout that time, he has also an active community volunteer acting in various capacities as director and/or officer of several community and charitable organizations.
Barry has served on the Hats On for Awareness Board since 2012.
Creative and consumer service-oriented, Dona Serato is a decorating consultant at Sun-Brite Drapery. She is an engaged team player and can solve challenges diplomatically and with ease.
Dona has been involved with fundraising for Hats On since 2009 and believes in giving back to the community by helping others who need it most. She was drawn to Hats On because it is helping thousands of people living with an affected by mental illness and addiction. She joined the Board of Directors in 2017.
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