Casita Maria Center for Arts and Education’s Fiesta 2018 was held on Tuesday, October 16th, 2018 at New York’s Plaza Hotel. Each year at Fiesta, the Casita Maria Gold Medal of Honor is awarded to outstanding individuals in recognition to their contribution to the worlds of arts, education, and philanthropy. This year, Casita Maria honored three exceptional philanthropic individuals: Dayssi Olarte de Kanavos, Mary Snow, and Carlos Souza.
Cuban Actress Sissi Fleitas was the evening’s host. The Dinner Chairmen were Jacqueline Weld Drake, HRH Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia, and Carlos Mota. Casita Maria’s Chairman Jacqueline Weld Drake presented all three honorees with their Gold Medals of Honor.
“I am proud to say that in 2018, our programs daily serve more than 1,000 promising young members of the Bronx, East Harlem and Harlem communities” said Board Chairman Jaqueline Weld Drake. She went on to say, “Looking ahead to what’s in store in 2019 and beyond, Casita Maria will continue to advance our mission and work to build a brighter, more creative, and culturally rich future for our children and all future residents of the South Bronx and East Harlem.”
The Honorary Chairs were Elizabeth Peabody, Christine Schwarzman, and Lynn Wyatt. American-Brazilian singer Bebel Gilberto performed two songs with guitarist Guilherme Monteiro.
Casita Maria’s annual benefit is an elegant and fun evening that begins with cocktails, followed by seated dinner, music and dancing by The Bob Hardwick Sound. Past honorees have included outstanding individuals such as Santiago Calatrava, Marcelo Claure, Roberto Cavalli, Patricia isneros, John Demsey, France Desmarais, Marta and Placido Domingo, Emilia and J. Pepe Fanjul, Joanna Fisher, Carlos Fuentes, Audrey Gruss, Agnes Gund, Rosaura Henkel, Audrey Hepburn, Carolina Herrera, Julio Iglesias, Hilda Ochoa-Brillembourg, Eddie Palmieri, Elizabeth T. Peabody, Rodman C. Rockefeller, Julia Salvi, Daisy Soros, Hutton Wilkinson and Lynn Wyatt.
For more than 80 years, Casita Maria Center for Arts and Education has served as a cultural and community anchor for thousands of young people and their families in the Hunts Point section of the South Bronx. Casita has earned a reputation as the first and oldest Latino charity in New York City. The mission of the Casita Maria Center for Arts & Education is to empower youth and their families by creating a culture of learning through high quality social, cultural, and educational opportunities.
Annie Watt/ Annie Watt Agency
Gonzalo Marroquin /PMC