‘It was sincerely heartwarming for me,’ Raffaella Tassone says of coveted award; Paige Hannan was selected as Lisa Brooking Young Woman of the Year

Orillia’s 2021 Nelle Carter Woman of the Year was “unequivocally caught off guard” to learn she had received the award.

The Orillia Business Women’s Association (OBWA) recently announced Raffaella Tassone had earned the annual honour.

“It was sincerely heartwarming for me and this announcement instantly made my heart smile,” she said. “I am definitely the type of gal who will stand in the back of a crowd … so I would never expect recognition or accolades for a job that I absolutely love to do in my hometown.”

That job is running TNT Fine Lingerie and Bra Boutique. Tassone has operated the business for 21 years. It used to be located downtown, but it’s now at 3280 Monarch Dr., Unit 3.

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Her business isn’t the only reason she was named Woman of the Year, though. The OBWA recognizes women also for their commitment to the community.

Tassone has given back in a number of ways, including the Let’s Make a Kid Smile Christmas toy drive she has organized every year since 2008.

This year, 15 other local businesses joined her to collect toys for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orillia and District, the Green Haven Shelter for Women, the Children’s Aid Society’s Orillia branch and the Orillia Youth Centre.

This year’s effort was the most successful yet, Tassone said.

“The outpouring this year was phenomenal, not only by the businesses wanting to participate in the toy drive as drop-off locations, but also the goodwill from members of our community,” she said. “I am still in awe at what we were able to achieve this year to assist the vulnerable children amongst us this Christmas.”

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Next year, she will try to recruit even more businesses to get involved.

While Tassone’s community involvement is impressive, her work at TNT is also important. It goes beyond simply selling lingerie.

She became a certified mastectomy fitter, through Amoena Canada, in 2014 and was recertified this year.

Amoena Canada offers prosthesis and custom bras for women who have received mastectomies, partial mastectomies or lumpectomies after being diagnosed with breast cancer.