Enza Tiberi Checchia
Nominated for the award: Philanthropy
Company: Hats On For Awareness
Position: Chief Visionary Officer (CVO), Co-Founder
Biography: Philanthropy Category Nominee-Enza Tiberi Checchia Cultivator of relationships, trailblazer and powerhouse in the growing awareness of mental illness, Enza Tiberi-Checchia is a Philanthropist and a change maker. Her leadership in Mental Health is nationally recognized by CAMH (Center for Addiction & Mental Health), naming her a “Difference Maker” in 2017. Enza was selected out of more than 3,700 nominees. She is one of 150 people recognized for influencing change in addiction and mental health across the nation. Twenty-nine years ago, June 8, 1988, at the age of 23, Enza suffered her first, major depressive episode. Six months later, her beloved father, Giovanni Tiberi, took his life. Enza has experienced over half a dozen major depressive episodes between the ages of 23 to 42. Shortly after her father’s death, she made a quiet promise to do something, so that other families would not have to go through what her family went through. This promise remained unspoken for 20 years. She got married to her childhood sweetheart, had 2 daughters and ran a successful small business. Enza has not had a major depressive episode for over 10 years and has been off medications for 3 years. She says “Mental illness did not break me; it broke me open. Her story of thriving through mental illness, challenges the perception of mental illness as an “affliction” to a “transformational process.” In 2008, Enza and her friend Benny Caring, co-founded the charity, Hats On For Awareness as the fulfillment of Enza’s promise. In just 9 years, Hats On for Awareness has raised over $750,000 for treatment & educational programs with organizations such as CAMH, Jack.Org, Humber River Hospital and What’s Up Walk-In Clinic. Enza shows no signs of slowing down with Hats On For Awareness and she has added another expression of her promise that is deeply personal to her. In 2016, she closed her business, Decorenza to take a self-funded sabattical to follow the path, paved with her life’s work, that she sees before her. “To change the way we see and treat mental illness.” “Everything that has happened to me, every single thing, has happened for a reason and was absolutely necessary to lead me to answering my call to change how we see and treat mental illness,” Enza says. Enza continues to share her story in high schools, detox facilities and at Hats On For Awareness’s Hatsquerade Gala. She connects immediately and deeply with her audience. From 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", she has created her blog, MI Etcetera as another expression of her promise. The intention is to create a space for Enza to share her wisdom that builds connection, for anyone affected by mental illness. She is a student: who has lived her studies in the first person and continues her lessons with enthusiasm and vigor and a teacher: equipped with wisdom from her journey that needs to be shared. Speaking for those without a voice, silenced by mental illness and its stigma, Enza has much to say and she will not be silenced.