After receiving her diagnosis of having a brain tumor, going through numerous chemotherapy sessions and surgical procedures, and coming out of the whole ordeal alive, Shala Hassani, a former IT manager for Siemens, decided to celebrate her positive prognosis and show her appreciation for life by paying it forward and starting a charity. In 2007, Hassani founded Tikva Children’s Charities, a non-profit organization that collects donations and gives the proceeds to various children’s charities or to people in need. Tikva, which means “hope” in Farsi–Hassani’s native language–was the perfect name for the charity because, while Hassani was going through her physical challenges as a result of her diagnosis, she never gave up the hope that she would fight her disease and survive.
Tikva Children’s Charities is one of the very few charities that are run by volunteers who do not receive a salary. As Hassani stated, “I have mostly ladies who volunteer to help me with my charity along with my mother, Malihah.” Since the charity is run by volunteers, 100 percent of the proceeds go directly into the charity. What is also unique and special about the charity is that, persons who donate to the charity get to choose where the money made from their donated items benefit, or who the items—if in good and usable condition—go to. Hassani also explained that, if she holds a fundraiser, she decides where the proceeds from the fundraiser go—one of her favorite charities is St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Also, if the donations are small, those donating usually allow Hassani choose where they should go. If, however, the donations are large, then those donating the items get to choose where the proceeds or those items benefit.
The donation plant, which was donated by Dr. Sima Hassani, is located in San Martin, California on a 10-acre, post-walnut tree orchard. People who wish to donate can take any used or new items to the plant, where they will then be sorted and/or sold. Hassani also stated that, “We also identify who the needy families are or the single moms with kids. When we decipher who is in need of our services and items, we go directly to their residence and take to them what people have donated to us, like household items, furniture, or whatever they may need. Or, we may also buy them food or groceries, or give them money for groceries or gift-cards for certain stores so they can buy what they need for their family and their household.”
Aside from founding the charity, Hassani has put $10,000 of her own money into the charity to purchase unique jewelry from various local jewelry designers and jewelry makers. She then takes the jewelry and goes to, or holds various fundraising events throughout the Bay Area. Any money collected from the jewelry sales go directly back into supporting the operations of the charity. As Hassani explained, “One thing I decided to do was to purchase beautiful jewelry from different designers and different makers; that’s another way I can make more money for the charity—by selling these beautiful jewelry pieces—and at the same time get myself into various events so I can get the word out about my charity, promote my charity, and make our name known. Sometimes my daughter Roxanne makes the sketches of the jewelry and then we have them made, or she helps me purchase certain pieces.”
The most recent event Hassani attended was Leyina Chen’s Woman’s Day Gala, held at the Decathlon Club on April 16, 2011. At the event, Hassani’s jewelry was fondly received, as many guests of the event made their way over to her booth to try on and purchase many of her dazzling jewelry pieces—pieces which included rings, necklaces, earrings and bracelets.
So, if you have a love for jewelry along with a passion for helping others, Tikva Children’s Charities is a worthy cause to consider the next time you either want to buy a new ring or donate your old sofa. You will not only bring hope through fashion, but your donation will also assist kids and people who deserve a helping hand.
For more information about Tikva Children’s Charities, please visit:
Charity Profile, Interview, and Photos by Sophia M. Papadopoulos