For Moez Kassam and Marissa Kassam, giving comes naturally. “Moez and I come from different cultures, but we have the same values. We grew up knowing how important it is to help others. Our parents taught us this lesson at a young age, and we’re passing it on to our children too,” says Marissa.
This long-standing belief in the importance of community involvement and support led Moez and Marissa to form the Moez & Marissa Kassam Foundation in 2016. Their Foundation works to build a more equitable society. “With a particular focus on children and immigrant communities, we invest in organizations that address the symptoms of inequality and exclusion, while also working on the structural reform necessary to level the playing field like education,” says Moez.
Education is a cornerstone of their Foundation and was the inspiration behind their latest gift to Sinai Health. “Moez’s mother was a professor, so he grew up with a great appreciation for the role education plays in building a healthy society. With a good meal and an education, you can get far in life. Our Foundation is trying to enable that for as many people as we possibly can,” says Marissa.
Their latest support of Sinai Health includes a $2.5 million gift, which will see the launch of the Moez & Marissa Kassam Fellowship Program in honour of their generous contribution. The Moez and Marissa Kassam Fellows will be selected for an opportunity to learn from world-leading experts in the Frances Bloomberg Centre for Women's and Infants' Health at Sinai Health. The goal is to have these trainees take their expertise back to their home countries to strengthen neonatal services in their communities. This capacity building in South Asian countries is of the utmost importance to the Kassams and exemplifies Sinai Health’s commitment to diversity in health care.
“We are excited for the Moez & Marissa Kassam Fellows to foster greater cultural awareness across Sinai Health and look forward to the benefits that will be realized here in Canada and abroad,” says Marissa. Adds Moez, “We are so lucky to live in Canada, and have the health care system we do. It’s the backbone of our society, something that was underlined for us during this most recent pandemic, and we need to make sure our hospitals and our health-care professionals have the support they need to maintain this wonderful national treasure.”
The Kassams have a deep connection to Sinai Health. Two of their children were born at Mount Sinai Hospital, and their fourth child - expected in summer 2022 - will be a Sinai baby as well. Their patient experience at Sinai Health has been a positive one, and they realize the need to support health care in Canada. “There are a lot of misconceptions around hospitals and how much money comes from the government versus what a hospital needs to raise on its own. For a hospital to provide excellent care it needs all forms of community support, from volunteers to those able to make financial commitments,” says Marissa.
“We really believe in the importance of giving back to the institutions and communities that have given us so much,” says Moez. “One part of our responsibility is to take advantage of our blessings and provide philanthropic support through our Foundation. But giving our time and energy to causes that matter is key, too. Being part of - and contributing to - the Sinai Health family is a blessing for our family, and a tradition we will bring to our children as they grow up and learn about the importance of active civic participation.”
“We also saw a unique opportunity for our involvement with Sinai Health. To many members of the public, Sinai Health is an organization primarily aligned with the Jewish community. But the hospital serves all communities, and its staff and leadership come from many cultural and religious backgrounds. We saw our support of Sinai Health as helping to communicate to everyone that the hospital is a welcoming and diverse place, that they can be patients and receive excellent care, and have a meaningful experience as a donor, regardless of their background.” adds Moez.
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