Laura Sanhueza-Miller

And the best part is you don’t have to do it alone.  Invite friends to take on this exercise with you, or pursue them on your own and meet new friends!  Giving has a way of giving back to you…

Location: Toronto, Canada

Profession: Senior Manager Commercial Operations for Canada at Hologic Inc.

Twitter: @ShapeHerEsteem

What was the first gift you ever gave?:

As a member of the Girl Guides of Canada throughout my childhood, we were always encouraged to participate in community giving opportunities, which included food and clothing drives, volunteering at seniors homes, and more. It’s through Girl Guides that I initially started to take action on giving. These experiences motivated me to continue giving back later in life through a non-profit I started called Shaping Her Esteem (SHE). I felt there was an opportunity to make a big difference at the grassroots level.

What is your charity of choice?:

There are many worthy causes that I wish to and do support, but my focus in giving back is through my charity SHE. SHE is dedicated to developing strong, confident and healthy young women through free training, motivational and nutritional programs. These programs encourage girls to become more aware of healthy practices and to implement them into their lives at a young age so that they can build a strong foundation for their future. After my athletic career competing at the World Championships in both Triathlons as a 21 year old age grouper and in Rowing as a member of the Lightweight Women’s Quadruple Sculls, I wanted to  impart the mental, physical, and nutritional lessons I learned to help create a healthy path of wellness for young women. To date, my incredible team at SHE has reached hundreds of young women across the Greater Toronto Area through all our various programs, and I’m excited to increase our impact as we grow each year.

Who inspires you to give?:

I am inspired everyday by the people I know, hear or read about who are sharing their stories of giving. I learned about an initiative called Random Acts of Kindness through one of SHE’s volunteers. This individual would stand on street corners equipped with bags of candy or hot tea and give it to people walking by, just because. This made people feel special, and was a way to encourage them to pay it forward, hopefully creating an endless trail of kindness and generosity in the world. My husband also inspires me to give. He’s always organizing charity events with his work for United Way, or Run for the Cure, and he’s my number one supporter of my work with SHE.

What motivates you to give?:

I had a very humble upbringing and thanks to the resourcefulness of my parents, they found several opportunities for me to participate in programs that helped me meet new people, build relationships, exercise my interest in sport, and engage with people from all walks of life. I tried to never take those opportunities for granted, and understood that not everyone was fortunate enough to have access to such important life experiences the same way I did. This is why I wanted to create a movement that would build empowered and healthy young women, hopefully for generations.  I hope to raise my family from the very beginning to make giving back a meaningful part of their lives.

How do you give of your time?:

Each week as part of SHE, volunteers and I lead complimentary fitness classes tailored to girls between 8-13 years of age.  In the class they participate in individual and team-based exercises, practice positive imagery and share empowering stories with each other. Finally, Founder Robyn Henry of Work It Out Fitness Studios generously leads an annual high-energy fitness fundraiser for SHE where I get the chance to share SHE’s mission with the community and several generous supporters of the cause.

What advice do you have for others to consider giving?:

No gift is too little and they can come in all different forms and sizes: holding a door, listening to a friend, or giving your time to volunteer for a local community organization.  Find a time to give each day, in any of its many forms, and you will start to feel the internal rewards of your generosity.  If time allows, look for a local organization you would like to engage in or sign up for, such as a 10km run where you can raise money for a cause.  And the best part is you don’t have to do it alone.  Invite friends to take on this exercise with you, or pursue them on your own and meet new friends!  Giving has a way of giving back to you. You can be a giver anytime, with any amount.

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Lauren Shoolman


Lauren is a development professional with five years of experience in Canada and the United States in individual and institutional giving, and special events. She is an Emerging Leaders of New York Arts (ELNYA) Fellow, a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals in New York, and has been invited to deliver guest lectures at St. Lawrence University, NY, on fundraising. Lauren holds a BA Specialized Honors in Marketing and a Certificate in Management from York University, Canada.

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Why We Give tells stories of ordinary philanthropists, making a difference, dollar by dollar and hour by hour.  

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