Topaz Cafe Fundraiser sponsored by Branko Palikuca and Duke Petrovich raises near $180,000 for Ivanjica new health center

On November 10th, Ivan and Zoran travelled to Burr Ridge, Illinois (near Chicago) for SAMA’s 3rd fundraising dinner at Topaz Café. This event has consistently been one of our most successful fundraisers and this year proved to be no different.

Branko Palikuca organized a dinner completely free of charge at his restaurant Topaz Café in support of our upcoming project for the health center in Ivanjica.

This project holds a special place in the hearts of many of the attendees who were originally from Ivanjica before arriving in Chicago. This project was spearheaded by Dusan (“Duke”) Petrovich in commemoration of his father, who arrived in the US after escaping the communists after WW2 and was never able to return to Serbia. The people of Ivanjica will erect a plaque in his honor.

There were 120 guests in total, all of whom were friends and colleagues of Branko and Duk, including a large number of Americans. The guests enjoyed cocktail hour while listening to a presentation by Zoran about the Ivanjica project.  This was followed by dinner and wine, provided free of charge by Branko. A special thanks goes to Ms. Milka Lukic, also originally from Ivanjica, for preparing and donating some of the best “sarma” we have ever tried. With full hearts and fuller stomachs, the evening came to end around 1AM. We collected a little more than $78,000, which together with a very generous donation of $100,000 from Duke brought the final count close to $180,000!

We have already started working with contractors in Uzice who are giving us a very fair price and contracting with companies to get medical equipment for the hospital including furniture, beds, defibrillators etc. We hope to begin installing the equipment and implementing the renovations in the next month with an approximate end date some time in February and a grand reopening by Duke Petrovich in the Spring.

Thank you to all who came to support SAMA – the community in Chicago has always been extremely warm and welcoming.

Lastly, this fundraiser was our most successful to date and truly would not have been possible without the generosity of Branko Palikuca and Duke Petrovich.

Branko Palikuca, Ivan Aksentijevich, Zoran Mladenovic and Duke Petrovich