Turning Pain Into Kindness, One Strand at a Time

February 18, 2021

Marisa is a full-time student majoring in Software Engineering and a programmer. She is motivated by using and creating tech to bring joy to others. She is equally as passionate about sharing her love of technology with others, advocating for youth mental health resources, and working to create equality in STEM. Marisa is also a two-time Hispanic Scholarship Fund Scholar. Outside of school, she loves listening to music, going to concerts, and spending time with family and friends.

This story took place in United States

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It’s often extremely easy to take things in our life for granted, especially something as identifying as our hair, until it’s gone.

During her junior year of high school, Tiffany Hwang, now a senior, suffered from hair loss due to her Alopecia, which she says stress makes worse.

“Through my own personal experience, I’ve experienced deteriorations in my self-confidence. Crying every time I found a bald patch or witnessing abnormal amounts of hair washing down the drain, I felt so alone during the hair loss process. I want to give back to my community and be able to help people like me. Through triggering my Alopecia during my junior year of high school, I was very fortunate to have been able to afford a wig to help restore my confidence, but I know that there are many children nationwide who do not have the same resources.”

(Courtesy of Tiffany Hwang)

Tiffany has turned her pain into a campaign to help others like her and is the organizer of the Strands of Hope Campaign, which is a year-round event that strives to help any child who is suffering from hair loss receive a wig even if they are financially unable to afford one.

The process of creating the campaign hasn’t been easy though, but Tiffany worked hard to get over the hurdles that were in the way.

“I started researching hair donation and wig organizations that were trustworthy and transparent in their wig production process to ensure that all donations were making their genuine impacts. After finding Wigs For Kids and Children With Hair Loss, I then started contacting local hair salons, asking if they were interested in working with me. I received five responses from local hairstylists, and to this day, I am beyond grateful for their kindness and help they have provided.”

She continued, “The marketing process of the campaign was the most difficult aspect in establishing my campaign initially due to the pandemic and because I do not have social media. Therefore, I created a website that contains all the information for hair donors and financial donations. I also had the support of my family, who were able to promote my campaign via their own social media, which made a huge difference. I also contacted multiple news media outlets, which helped in sharing and spreading my story within my local community.”

Despite each of the challenges, Tiffany knows how immensely important the work she is doing is and realizes the impact it has had on herself as well.

“I’m extremely grateful to be able to have the opportunity to help those who are like me, suffering from hair loss. It’s allowed me to take an obstacle in my life and transform it into an optimistic way for me to make a difference and care for others. My campaign has also made me realize that no matter your age and experiences in life, you can always make a difference in a small or large way as long as you commit to your visions and goals. Due to this realization, I am now unafraid to share my experiences and messages to continue to advocate for people like me.”

(Courtesy of Tiffany Hwang)

She continued, “I believe that advocating for those who are suffering from hair loss and are unable to receive a wig due to their financial situation is important because the process of hair loss itself has detrimental health effects. Working towards providing free wigs to children suffering from hair loss not only will help their confidence but also help them feel that they aren’t alone, no matter what their financial situation is.”

With the initial goal of raising $1,800 worth of financial donations, the cost of making one wig, and collecting at least 10 hair donations, Strands of Hope surpassed the initial financial and hair donation goals and raised about $2,600 in financial donations and collected about 16 hair donations.

With that in mind, Tiffany has more goals set for the campaign.

“Ultimately, I hope to continue to expand Strands of Hope’s mission no matter where I go,” she said. “I hope to raise at least $3,600 by the end of the year, which is able to fund the production of two hairpieces. I also hope to collect over 30 hair donations by the end of the year, which helps in making at least 3 hairpieces.”

She also hopes that her campaign will help people realize all the different ways they can help, as well as see the importance of taking care of themselves.

“I hope people can understand how much a little contribution such as their hair or financial donations can help boost children’s confidence. They can become hair donors themselves through growing out their hair to meet the hair length requirements. This will directly help in providing a wig to a child in need. They can also provide financial donations (large or small), which also makes a difference in wig production.”

Tiffany continued, “I also hope that people can begin to understand the consequences that can occur when we don’t take care of ourselves and also spread awareness on the importance of taking care of your health.”

Learn more about Strands of Hope, including how to donate and participate, here: https://sohcampaign.wixsite.com/sohcampaign

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