Resident Feature

Meet the Alabbas Family

Doing their Part to Fight the Pandemic

Nahla Alabbas immigrated from Syria to marry a man she had fallen in love with while he visited family there. Fadi was born in Tripoli, Lebanon and moved to Syria when he was six. He then moved to the US when he was 18, and on a visit back home in 1998 he happened to stop into the pharmacy that Nahla owned. “That same day he came back three times to buy different items,” says Nahla. “He came back again the next day and the day after, at which time he asked me out. We hit it off right away and stayed in touch after he came back to the US. Eight months later, he came back to Syria, and we got engaged. We got married in April 2000, and I moved to the US to start a family together.”

Nahla was born in Damascus, Syria, and grew up in different regions of Syria where her family moved following her parents’ jobs in the oil industry. She graduated with a BS in pharmacy from Damascus University in 1994. After working for a small pharmacy, she opened her own at the young age of 25. After moving to the US, she had to pass several exams to obtain her California pharmacist license. She worked for Rite Aid, Longs Drugs, and CVS. She became the pharmacy manager at CVS in Clayton in 2007.

After her 3rd child was born, Nahla stepped down to a part-time role to spend more time with her family. Fadi was working as a civil engineer; having arrived in the US with only a few dollars to his name, he worked his way through college in Cleveland, Ohio, and then a master’s degree from Colorado State University. He recently left his job to focus on the pharmacy that he and Nahla opened in 2018. As Nahla says, “After reducing my hours at CVS, I felt a little void and decided to go back to school and get a Doctorate degree in Pharmacy. I attended a hybrid program at University of Florida and graduated with a PharmD degree in 2015. At the end of 2017, Fadi and I finally gathered our courage and decided to start our own pharmacy.”

They opened CareLink Pharmacy in the Rossmoor area of Walnut Creek. Nahla says, “It’s been an amazing journey of hard work and rewarding growth.” Fadi adds, “Nahla has played a vital role in fighting the pandemic by vaccinating many community members throughout the Bay Area. With the help of her staff and family, Nahla orchestrated and carried out vaccination clinics not only in Walnut Creek but also in Berkeley, Oakland, Castro Valley and Livermore, at elementary schools and low-income housing developments. Nahla went as far as going into the homes of elderly and disabled patients who couldn’t make it to the pharmacy and administered their vaccines at home. She has received great feedback from the community as a testament to her hard work.” 

Nahla says, “The pharmacy became a collective effort of the whole family. Fadi, after building the pharmacy structure from ground up, is now responsible for HR, business development, and behind the scenes operations. Our two boys work as delivery drivers and jump in to help at the pharmacy whenever their school schedules allow.”

The couple’s three children all like to accompany them on ski vacations. The two eldest, Sami (21) and Farris (18), swam on the Scottsdale Swim Team from 2007-2012 and then for Rancho San Miguel. They both also played water polo and participated in Boy Scouts. Sami also played in the jazz band and the marching band at De La Salle High School. He now attends UC Santa Cruz studying Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology. Farris also enjoyed soccer and lacrosse, and just graduated from De La Salle High School. He will attend the University of Nevada, Reno this fall.

Laila, 11, just finished at Bancroft Elementary Dual Immersion program where she learned Spanish. She will be attending Foothill Middle School this fall.

Their Pomeranian Chihuahua mix is 9 years old. He is named Luce, an Italian name Sami gave him after coming back from Walnut Creek’s Sister Cities exchange program in Noceto, Italy. Luce means “light”. He gets along great with the family cat, Uno, and both are spoiled by the entire family! 

The Alabbases came to Northgate in 2005 from Dublin. After making 10 offers in the very hot real estate market of 2005, they finally got their home on Bowling Green Dr. They enjoy the tight-knit community here and love to travel. Their travels have taught them to have great respect for all religions and cultures. Like so many in our community who have been on the front lines of the pandemic, we appreciate Nahla’s pharmacy for its part in helping keep everyone safe!

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By Kara Navolio, Resident since 1991 | Photo Credit: Courtesy of Alabbas family