The Olive Branch, founded by Toronto’s own Deborah McCracken in 2006, is an organization that focuses on HIV/AIDS prevention and care, early childhood education, and food security for women and children in Tanzania.
On February 24, 2012, Olive Branch founder Deborah McCracken hosted the 7th annual Olive Branch Gala at the elegant Bellvue Manor in Vaughan. The 272 guests enjoyed a fun-filled evening of dining, dancing, raffles, silent auctions, and a few surprise guests.
One of the night’s highlights was a surprise visit from Vaughan Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua. Bevilacqua presented Deborah with a cheque for $10,000 at the event in support of the Olive Branch and its inspirational accomplishments. Other surprise appearances included Deb Schultz, Regional Ward Councillor for Vaughan, and an African dance group who wowed guests with their colourful and explosive performance. A total of $54,242.00 was raised from the gala and approximately 97% of that money goes directly towards helping those who cannot help themselves.
The funds raised help support individuals living with HIV/AIDS in Tanzania. Richard Maona is one such recipient, who was helped by donations made to the organization both financially and through improvement in his health. He is now able to support himself through Olive Branch’s microfinance program and efforts of the Olive Branch have helped restore his immune system. “Only a year ago, he could not walk on his own due to the peripheral neuropathy he faced (symptom of HIV),” says McCracken. “We provided him with a loan to open a store. He went from making less than $5 per month to making $5 per day. He now can walk and ride a bicycle.”
McCracken plans on expanding the Olive Branch projects into new communities, with a distinct focus on Africa. The Olive Branch owes much of its current success to its Canadian fundraisers and its dedicated volunteers. With Canada’s continued support, the Olive Branch is sure to accomplish these goals.
McCracken, who has become a major inspiration for other YPs, would undoubtedly have ‘cracked the code’ on how others can successfully fundraise for something they are truly passionate about. All you passionate YP’S out there, take note. Deborah McCracken is the definition of the YP we strive to be, making a difference one person at a time.
For further information on the Olive Branch and its programs and accomplishments, click here.