Following the guiding beliefs of its president and founder Judy Dlugacz, co-founder Rachel Wahba, fueled by the generosity, hard work, and talent of its staff, volunteers, and guests, Olivia Travel integrates philanthropic and humanitarian efforts in its daily work with the Olivia Gives program.
“On every cruise and resort vacation, we look at ways to help the local communities,” said Tisha Floratos, Olivia’s vice president of travel. “We try to do our part to make things a little better wherever and whenever we have the opportunity.”
Added Jill Cruse, Olivia’s vice president of guest experience, “We make a difference everywhere we go. It’s another reason why Olivia is so much more than a travel company for LGBTQ+ women. We truly care about the places we visit and the people who live there, and so we give as much and as often as we can.”
These are a few examples of the Olivia Gives efforts throughout the years:
Olivians sailing on the 30th Anniversary Caribbean Cruise brought a collection of school supplies with them for the Roatán Children’s Fund, and several Olivians spent the day sorting the many supplies that guests had donated for the island’s kindergartens and elementary schools. Formed in 2006, this nonprofit works to improve education and provide relief for needy children throughout the island.
Since our first African safari trip in 2006, Olivians have donated approximately $50,000 to the Micato-AmericaShare project—supporting a program that helps extricate girls from the Mukuru slums of Nairobi or from abusive or neglectful families and houses, feeds, clothes, and educates them—and following our visits, several Olivians have sponsored Nairobi schoolgirls, providing $1,000 a year to cover their meals, boarding, uniforms, and school supplies. Olivians have also been generous with in-kind donations. In 2006, 120+ Olivians brought more than 45 bags of toys, school supplies, and clothing to a school in the Mukuru slums, benefitting more than 400 children, and this act of generosity was repeated in 2010. And on two trips in 2019, Olivians helped support the Harambee Community Centre, which provides a library, tutoring and job support, computer access, and much more—including washable sanitary pads for school-aged girls, who otherwise would miss school for lack of access to sanitary products.
Over the years, Olivians have contributed more than $70,000 through the Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic (LEX-NG) Fund to assist women and children in both the Peruvian Amazon and the Galápagos and to protect the Galápagos’s fragile ecosystem. For example, in the Peruvian Amazon, Olivian support of the LEX-NG Fund supported Minga Peru, a radio program run by women that educates listeners on critical social themes such as domestic violence prevention, reproductive and sexual health, gender equality, and natural resource management. And in the Galapagos, Olivians supported the creation of an education center—with a special emphasis on island ecology and wildlife protection—for the children of the Galápagos by the Charles Darwin Research Center.
Partnering with the Dreams Tulum Resort & Spa, Olivia Gives helped support Fundación Tulum, which was founded in 2006 to strengthen social welfare, culture, and education in Tulum and the surrounding areas. Olivians donated school supplies to directly benefit schoolchildren and also made financial contributions to support the foundation’s many beneficiaries—Mayan children and elders who frequent the foundation’s community center and students of the Instituto Politécnico) of Carrillo Puerto who receive the foundation’s scholarships.
Seven months after Hurricanes Irma and Maria ravaged the Caribbean Islands and Puerto Rico, Olivia Gives visited Helping Hands Noramise in Limbé, Haiti, to support their school gardens, nutrition workshop, and learning center with financial donations and gifts such as seeds, hand tools, discovery toys, world maps, and French-language books. In St. Croix, Olivians contributed personal care items, first-aid kits, and school supplies to The Women’s Coalition of St. Croix, an organization helping women and children who have been subjected to domestic violence. Olivia Gives also contributed to the new Animal Shelter of St. Croix—the old shelter having been destroyed by the storm—with toys, leashes, and pet carriers. And in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Olivia guests made financial contributions to Fundación Hospital Pediátrico, the island’s largest public pediatric hospital, and United for Puerto Rico, which offered shelter, food, and health services to Puerto Ricans
Read about earlier Olivia Gives endeavors here: