NEW YORK – The Arete Fund, an international nonprofit organization based in Mountain View in northern California, has undertaken an important initiative for the restoration of the forest surrounding Ancient Olympia following the catastrophic fires of last summer.
The idea came from the founder of the organization, Dianne Tittle de Laet, daughter of the legendary American football star and Hall of Famer Y.A. Tittle, who played for the San Francisco 49ers and the New York Giants and passed away in 2017.
Sensitive to environmental and humanitarian issues, while also being a published author, Dianne Tittle de Laet has often expressed a keen interest in Greece and Ancient Olympia and decided to implement The Olympian Trees Project, to help replace a large number of the thousands of olive trees that were reduced to ashes during the fires of the summer of 2021 which caused great damage in many parts of Greece.
Last September, de Laet, accompanied by her husband, Steve, met with the governor of Western Greece Nektarios Farmakis, deputy governor of Ilia and mayor of Ancient Olympia George Georgiopoulos. During the meeting, they announced the donation of 5,000-100,000 olive saplings to be planted in the burned areas of the Municipality of Ancient Olympia. In fact, all three pledged to be helpers in whatever is needed in order for the donors’ efforts to “take root.”
The saplings will be purchased with money raised in an online fundraising campaign by American donors to the non-profit Arete Fund.
The response from the public has been overwhelming and by October, $360,000 had already been raised in donations, enough to plant 45,000 olive trees, halfway to the expected target.
“These people came to tell us, not only that they are present, but that they have begun a process of attracting capital from the U.S. for the reforestation of the region, with the tree-symbol of Greece and Ancient Olympia, the olive tree, which, apart from being a symbol of peace and solidarity, is also a source of livelihood for our region,” commented Farmakis, after the meeting with the couple de Laets.
Those interested in making a donation to the effort can visit the website: www.olympia-trees.com with the platform remaining open until March 2022.