After 9/11, Arab Americans were heavily targeted, feared and misrepresented. I made it a point to change the way people saw Arab Americans by attaching my identity to everything I do, even when giving to causes that are not affecting the Arab American community. My identity became my driving force, and the pride I grew to have in my culture pushed me to share it with the world through one of the most foundational values of my Arab heritage, giving.
Arab American hospitality, care, generosity and compassion are fundamental to the essence of who we are, this is exactly why I established the 100 Arab American Women Who Care event through the Center for Arab American Philanthropy (CAAP). Inspired by the generations of compassionate Arab women I grew up with, this event brings Arab American women together to talk and brainstorm ways to give strategically to some of the most critical causes. Through our collective action and giving, our impact knows no bounds.
Rasha Demashkieh grew up in a house full of books with great parents as educators. Her parents enriched her and her younger four siblings with the Arab American culture and heritage. They taught her that no matter where a person comes from or what wealth they have, education is the greatest value.
After receiving her formal education in Damascus, Syria, Rasha moved to Detroit with her husband Walid in 1975. She attended Wayne State University and earned a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy. She currently works at CVS Health in Port Huron, where she resides with her husband.
While making a home in Port Huron, Rasha also became more involved with her community. She served on the local schools’ PTA then was eventually elected as trustee of the Port Huron Area School District Board of Education, serving for 13 years.
Rasha was also invested in properly representing the Arab American community. She became involved with the Arab American National Museum at its inception and joined the Friends of the Museum. She then joined the board of ACCESS, becoming the board president, and the Center for Arab American Philanthropy (CAAP) where she and her husband established the Walid and Rasha Demashkieh Endowed Fund, allowing them to continue their desired legacy by giving back in perpetuity.
She has served on the National Arab American Medical Association, the Ibn Sina Fund to benefit medical students at Wayne State University and the American Heart Association. She was also appointed by Governor Snyder to the Civil Rights Commission in December 2011 and reappointed in 2015.
Just like her parents did for her, Rasha instilled in her own children a love for Arab American culture and heritage, and the duty to give back to society.