An Inspiring Story of a Woman Who Founded Fund-A-Need

semaMy name is Sema Tosun and I’m the president & founder of Fund-A-Need, a non-profit that focuses on helping low income seniors in San Mateo County. Fund-A-Need provides resources, education, money, goods, and items to low income seniors. I founded Fund-A-Need in February of 2014. I am also the owner of Trapeze restaurant in Burlingame, California, for over 12 years. Recently I gave up my banking & finance career of over 22 years to devote 100% of my time to  the growth of Fund-A-Need.

I was born in Turkey and came to the United States with my family at the age of seven. As a child, adjusting to America was very difficult. I was often bullied by my peers, and it was challenging, but I was fortunate to have such supportive family and friends. I am proud to be both a US Citizen as well as a Turkish Citizen. My family always spoke Turkish in our home, and bestowed the values of my heritage on me, and for that reason I speak and read Turkish fluently. I am, and always will be, forever grateful for my hardworking parents who sacrificed so much for me and my two older brothers. Coming from another country makes it so difficult for one to be successful and blend in, but my parents achieved that and therefore I see myself and my family as the epitome of  “The American Dream”. On a side note, if you haven’t visited Turkey I strongly suggest you do so as it’s a beautiful country full of vibrancy and history.

Through my finance career I was exposed to many community events and programs as well as local charities that I often volunteered with and took part in. This is when my passion for philanthropic work started. I tirelessly volunteered in many local non-profits like CORA, HIP Housing, Samaritan House, Second Harvest Food Bank, Police Athletics League, and CASA, as well as many others. I started becoming widely respected throughout the community, and recognized for my continued support and volunteering efforts to the local non-profits. I always believed that the best gift one can receive is the feeling one gains from giving back.

Having achieved a growing success in my business through my restaurant and banking career, the financial and emotional challenges one faces living here became clear to me. In the heart of Silicon Valley, the focus is geared more towards our youth, technology and money.  I wanted to focus my attention on those who are often most forgotten and truly helpless in our society – OUR LOW INCOME SENIORS. As vulnerable and helpless as a child is, a low-income senior is that much more helpless, and needs all the support they can get. There simply isn’t enough help, support or resources for our struggling seniors, and I wanted to change that. In this spirit I founded Fund-A-Need, and have been tirelessly spreading the word. Through Fund-A-Need, my dream is to bring awareness and be a voice to so many voiceless vulnerable seniors who struggle in our very vibrant and youth oriented community.

Fund-A-Need partners with many of the local non-profits to help their senior aging community. I work closely with the various city low income housing shelters, and strongly believe in the power of collaboration and working together as non-profits for the ultimate goal…TO HELP OTHERS IN NEED. I believe that non-profits, although we all seek the same thing, donations so our foundations continue to grow and prosper, we need to be an advocate for each other, partner and work together as non-profits .

Fund-a-Need is different because it offers a unique, one-of-a-kind style of giving — giving that is up close and personal. We deliver educational programs to local senior residential communities to ensure that seniors are aware of available resources. Some of the educational services we provide are partnering with our local law enforcement agencies, hospitals and professionals, by doing educational seminars on elder financial abuse, senior home safety , health, nutrition, diet & exercise, and even the most simple and basic need of socializing with the seniors.The FAN Network is designed to “match” low-income seniors with benefactors. As a local resident, you can do one of two things through our FAN Network. When when you join the FAN Network you have an opportunity to both report seniors with needs, and help seniors with needs – both on an entirely personal level. This is what makes Fund-A-Need different and unique from all the other non-profits.

I truly believe that collaborating and forging strong partnership with my community, dignitaries, and political leaders is the key to success in a business….especially in the business of non-profits. I love and enjoy networking and socializing and building bridges among people and agencies. It’s only in this way that we can achieve success and the positive growth of our selves, our communities, and the people that we touch day to day. Social media, and my restaurant, have given me a huge platform to get the Fund-A-Need name out there and I have used that advantage to best advantage. It was through social media and my restaurant that I was able to attract initial personal donations and support. I am not going to lie, many people said negative things, and were discouraging “nonbelievers” in my passion. But it was those people that made me fight harder and stronger to strive to prove them wrong. So I would like to thank all of those people who were negative and didn’t support or believe in what I was doing, because they inspired me to work harder, feel stronger, and become bigger and more successful with Fund-A-Need. So again I THANK ALL OF YOU! You’ve made me and Fund-A-Need more confident than ever.

When I migrated from Turkey at the age of seven I came with two qualities that later defined my life: a powerful work ethic which allowed me to successfully pursue the American dream, and a profound and deeply ingrained respect for the elderly which seems to be rare these days. With the amount of wealth that we have in our community there should be absolutely no tolerance or excuse for seniors to be struggling and poverty stricken.

My biggest hero and role model is my amazing and beautiful mother. She is the most loving, passionate, and self-sacrificing woman I know. As a single mom for most of our childhood, my mother taught me to be strong, work hard and always be good to people regardless of how they treat you. I strive to be half the woman that she is each & every day! She encompass beauty & passion in the most elegant form.

Help support my passion, Fund-A-Need through our facebook page and the website where you can donate, volunteer, support, and view current campaigns, track upcoming events, and become a part of our FAN network. Become a part of the non-profit revolution where the act of giving is up close and personal!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sema Tosun is the President and Founder of Fund-A-Need. A non-profit she founded in Feb 2014 that focuses on providing services, education, money, items, and goods to low income seniors in San Mateo County. She has also been the owner of Trapeze Restaurant for over 12 years, which she runs and manages with her husband Steve.

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Posted in Business, Business Ownership, Career, Goals, Leadership, Life Experience, Marketing and tagged , , , , , .


  1. Thank you to scrappy women for being an inspiration and voice and support to so many women in business. Thank you for your interest in my story and for a beautiful publication.

  2. Thank you to scrappy women for being an inspiration and voice and support to so many women in business. Thank you for your interest in my story and for a beautiful publication.

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