Actor Bryan Greenberg hosted the Third Annual Olevolos Project Brunch on Saturday, May 3, benefiting the orphaned and disadvantaged children of the Olevolos Village in Tanzania, Africa. The event was held in the picturesque Gallow Green rooftop garden at the McKittrick Hotel.
The Olevolos Project is a 501(c)(3) that provides children with educational, housing, and extra-curricular opportunities through 12th grade. The students are sent to Usa River Academy-- a boarding school outside of Arusha-- where they receive a quality education that they otherwise would not have access to.
The non-profit pays for all of the school expenses the families cannot afford, including transportation, books, school supplies, and uniforms. The Olevolos Project was founded in 2007 by Dory Gannes, a graduate of Tufts University's Fletcher School of International Affairs, and Harvard University's Graduate School of Education.
Gannes, who is also the organization’s Executive Director, discussed the importance of providing well-rounded assistance for the children.
"If you don't have clothes on your back, it's going to be hard to study," she told brunch attendees. "If you don't have materials in your hands, then you can't write. All these extra things that they need, we are helping them to have."
Actor Bryan Greenberg (“How to Make It in America,” “One Tree Hill”), who has hosted each of the charity’s annual brunches, described the impoverished conditions he witnessed first-hand during a trip to Tanzania.
“When I went there in 2010... The poverty is on another level,” Greenberg told Examiner.com. “It’s crazy. People have to walk miles just to get clean water. We have poverty in the states, but you can just go to a store and get some water. I believe that the only way out of that [poverty] is through education.”
Actor, author, and philanthropist Hill Harper also emphasized the importance of education in allowing children to reach their full potential.
“Education is the foundational element to build a life on,” Harper said in an exclusive interview.
“The size and thickness of your foundation is directly proportional to the size of the goals and dreams you can achieve. As you build your educational foundation, the future starts to take care of itself.”
Olevolos Project Director Oliver Kavishe described the metamorphosis she has witnessed in the children since the charity’s intervention.
"You wouldn't believe what has happened to them," she explained. "Seeing them two years ago and today is a lot of change. Some of them weren’t able to talk. Some of them were kind of shy from just being in a difficult environment.
“Today, they are able to open up, say what they need, start speaking English. They know that they are the same as other [students]. They have the books, they have the uniforms, they have everything. They are equal.”
The event featured a delicious brunch buffet, hosted cocktails, and a Microsoft photo booth. Guests also participated in a raffle for an Xbox One, DVDs, handmade African scarves, a Microsoft tablet, and other prizes.
A silent auction allowed attendees to bid on a Maybelline gift basket bursting with beauty products, autographed “How to Make It in America” DVD box sets, lia sophia jewelry, an HBO “Game of Thrones” ultimate fan package, and many other great items.
Greenberg’s former “One Tree Hill” co-star, James Lafferty, attended the event, and stated that he liked The Olevolos Project’s focus on one community.
“I think the personal aspect of what they do—focusing on a small village, a small group of people and helping them—it’s very grassroots and personal and organic, and I love supporting this cause,” Lafferty told Examiner.com.
Each year, the charity brunch has been a successful event.
“We’ve been raising a lot of money, and what’s great about this is that all this money goes directly to these kids,” Greenberg said.
Gannes expanded on how the money will be used.
"Proceeds from tonight are going to keep them in school for this year,” she said, “and in August we're planning a little trip.
"We're hoping to take them on a plane and open their eyes up to what life can be like if they set their goals high, dream big, stay in school, and study hard."
Greenberg’s fiancée, actress Jamie Chung, also expressed her vision for The Olevolos Project.
“I don’t want it to be on a year-to-year basis setting these goals for the kids,” she said. “I want to set them up for life. I think the main goal is to enrich that area.”
Other guests at the brunch included Eddie Kaye Thomas, Josh Pais, Jessica Hart, Teresa Moore, Lily Lane, Wallis Day, and Kira Dikhtyar. Music was provided by DJ Jus Ske and DJ Mel Debarge. Sponsors of the Third Annual Olevolos Project Brunch included Brancott Estate Wines, Microsoft, Corona, Red Bull, Don Julio, and Tito's Handmade Vodka.
Check out the slideshow at the top left to view photos from the event!
For more information about The Olevolos Project, please visit www.theolevolosproject.org.