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Vaughan's Hats On For Awareness earns business achievement award
Named best Non-Profit/Charity by Vaughan Chamber of Commerce

June 4, 2018
Vaughan Citizen

Hats On For Awareness has been named the best nonprofit/charity by the Vaughan Chamber of Commerce. The registered charity is based in Vaughan and is in its 10th year of breaking the silence and stigma surrounding those living with and affected by mental illness and addictions.

“From Day 1, our biggest supporters have been our family, friends, neighbours and colleagues right here in the City of Vaughan,” said Hats On co-founder Benny Caringi.

“We are very proud to share this recognition with, not only our supporters and donors -- and without them we could not do what we do -- but also our benefactors who are out in communities across Ontario and Canada helping people with mental illness every day.”

Hats On was born out of a promise made by co-founder and chief visionary officer Enza Tiberi-Checchia, after she lost her father, who battled 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.

To date, the volunteer-led charity has distributed more than $750,000 to further the reach of mental health programs and initiatives in the GTA which enhance the lives of those living with and affected by mental illness and addictions.

Hats On benefactors include the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), of which it has fulfilled a $270,000 pledge toward a dedicated volunteer lounge and patient room. Hats On also supports CAMH’s Suits Me Fine program. Donations also support Jack.org’s National Student Summit and the charity’s pledge of $150,000 to Humber River Hospital’s mental health and addictions program. As well, donations are supporting a new partner this year, ‘what’s up’ walk-in clinics, a free counselling service for children, youth, young adults and their families.

Hats On also uses social media as a way to encourage others to help shatter the stigma associated with mental illness, and has more than 5,000 subscribers to its e-newsletter and various social media accounts.

The chamber of commerce’s 2018 Business Achievement Awards took place on May 3. There were more than 400 nominations, 40 finalists and 14 awards handed out.

Every year Hats On holds its annual marquee fundraiser, the Hatsquerade Gala, in the City of Vaughan. Last year, more than 950 people attended, and on October 26, 2018, more than 1,000 people are expected to join in celebrating the 10th annual Hatsquerade and a decade of helping others.