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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.
Sandro Lafarciola is an accomplished businessman and the Founder and President of Spectrum
HVAC. With more than 25 years of experience in the construction industry, Spectrum
specializes in high and low-rise residential, industrial, commercial and institutional HVAC sales
Sandro has always had a passion for helping others and after the sudden passing of his brother,
Frank in 2013, he found solace in volunteering with Hats On For Awareness. He is an advocate
for the removal of the stigma around mental health and is driven by the charity's vision of
mental wellness for all.
A relationship builder, Sandro brings corporate partnerships to the Board of Hats On to help
raise funds and awareness for mental health initiatives throughout the GTA.
More recently Sandro has taken to the road as a cyclist and he regularly participates in long
distance rides for various charities. He is proud to be part of this amazing charity and its
contribution to mental wellness.
Vice President, Co-Founder
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).
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.
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.
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.
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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