PHOTOS: Carolina Herrera, Daisy Soros, Fe Fendi, Geoffrey Bradfield at Casita Kick-Off Event

Susan Gutfreund, Jackie Weld Drake ©Patrick McMullan
Jackie Weld Drake celebrated the upcoming gala for Casita Maria Center for Arts and Education with a reception at her Upper East Side residence. Elizabeth Peabody was the honored guest of the night as she will receive an award at next month’s Fiesta! at The Plaza Hotel.
Carolina Herrera, Louise Grunwald, Gretchen Leach ©Patrick McMullan
The Manhattan apartment was filled with New York’s social elite including Peter Bacanovic, Edgar Battista, Kitty and Charles Berry, Martha Bograd, Geoffrey Bradfield, Barbara Circkva, David Patrick Columbia, Fe Fendi, Mark Glbertson, Susan Gutfreund, Marife Hernandez and Joel Bell, Carolina and Reinaldo Herrera, Ann and Charlie Johnson, Andrew Kepler, Michel L’Anglais, Margo Langenberg, Mercedes Levin, Iris Love, Annabelle and Alberto Mariaca, Christopher Mason, Haydee Morales (Executive Director of Casita Maria), Jane O’Keefe, Carlos Picon, Ann Rapp, Marc Rosen, Sana Sabbagh, Jean Shafiroff, Daisy Soros, and Kristi Witker Coons.
Frederick Eberstadt, Elizabeth Peabody, Haydee Morales, Edgar Batista, Gretchen Leach ©Patrick McMullan
Annually 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 honors three exceptional women: Rosaura Henkel, the Mexican philanthropist extraordinaire for her work with “Duerme Tranquilo” and service to numerous hospitals; New York’s own Elizabeth T. Peabody for her dedication to mental health and compassionate leadership to The Maria Droste Counseling Services; Julia Salvi, the co-founder and visionary behind the renowned Cartagena International Music Festival.
Adrienne Vittadini, Gianluigi Vittadini ©Patrick McMullan
Casita Maria Center for Arts and Education’s Fiesta 2017, Tuesday, October 17th, 2017 at New York’s Plaza Hotel. The Dinner Chairmen are Jacqueline Weld Drake and Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia. Fiesta’s Co-Chairmen are Carolina Herrera and Reinaldo Herrera.  Fox TV’s Audrey Puente will be this year’s master of ceremonies. Audrey is the daughter of great Latin percussionist, Tito Puente, himself a Casita alumnus and former honoree.
Drew Kepler, Daisy Soros, Carlos Picon

Casita Maria, headquartered in the South Bronx, was established in 1934 by Claire and Elizabeth Sullivan as the first charitable organization to serve Hispanics in New York City. Operating from a five-room tenement apartment in East Harlem, the Sullivan sisters, public school teachers who were also relatives of TV personality Ed Sullivan, had a primary mission to offer after school enrichment and recreational activities for the children of newly arrived families from Puerto Rico and other Spanish-speaking countries. Through the years, the need for more diversified programs and services grew as Hispanic families came to New York City in greater numbers. Before long, Casita Maria became a valued resource for these families adapting to life in a new environment.

Jackie Weld Drake, Peter Bacanovic ©Patrick McMullan

Today, Casita Maria remains dedicated to its original mission, delivering services to the mostly Hispanic youth, families and seniors of the community it serves. In 2009, Casita Maria inaugurated a state of the art facility encompassing performance spaces, exhibition gallery, dance and music studios, and more on its Simpson Street campus. This 90,000 square foot, six-story educational and cultural facility in collaboration with the Department of Education has enabled Casita Maria to expand its scope and capacities as a beacon of excellence.

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