Jacqueline Weld Drake hosted a celebration for Casita Maria Center for Arts and Education’s upcoming gala, Fiesta! 2016, at her Upper East Side residence last night. Guests toasted Fiesta’s! 2016 Gold medal honoree Mrs. Brian (Joanna) Fisher. Resident Magazine’s Associate Publisher, Melissa Kassis, partook in this joyous event. The soiree was held at Jacqueline Weld Drake’s own residence.



Sharon Bush & Jacqueline Weld Drake



Joanna Fisher, Sharon Bush, & Melissa Kassis



Guests included Yanna AvisSteven Aronson, Tony Bechara, ABT’s Ashley Bouder, Clodagh and Daniel Aubry, Martha Bograd, Sharon Bush, Jennifer Chun, Angela ChunAmy Fine Collins, Suzi Cordish, Somers Farkas, Marina Galesi, Michele Gerber-Klein, Susan Gutfreund, Carol Guest, Mai Hallingby Harrison, Yaz Hernandez, Elizabeth Jacoby, Margo Langenberg, Mercedes Levin, William Ivey Long, Tina and Paul Lubetsky, Dietlinde Maazel, Christopher Mason, Mary McFadden, Pilar and Juan Pablo Molyneux, Prince and Princess and Khemka, Ann Nitze, Jonathan Rondinelli, Marc Rosen, Sana H. Sabbagh, Lady Sharon Sondes and Geoffrey Thomas, Adrienne and Gigi Vittadini and Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia. 


This year’s Fiesta Gala will also honor Marcelo Claure (President and CEO of Sprint Corporation) and Hutton Wilkinson.  The gala is on Tuesday, October 18th at The Plaza Hotel. The Dinner Chairmen are Jacqueline Weld Drake and Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia. The Honorary Charis are Violaine and John BernbachAnnabelle and Alberto Marica and Lisa and Julian Niccolini.


About Casita Maria
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.
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.


Over the last 80 years, we’ve moved, grown, and deepened our programs. But at heart we are still the same organization that Claire and Elizabeth Sullivan (cousins of the television pioneer Ed Sullivan) willed into life in 1934. Working from a small East Harlem apartment, Casita Maria’s goal was to give the children of recently arrived Latino families the educational support needed to thrive. The youth could then lead their parents and communities in achieving the American Dream.


Casita Maria moved to the South Bronx from East Harlem in 1961. During one of the darkest periods in our community’s history, Casita Maria stayed and served.  As the “Bronx Burned” in the 1970’s, Casita Maria expanded programs to include homeless services, drug rehabilitation, violence prevention, gang intervention, teen pregnancy prevention and many other services. Casita Maria protected thousands of vulnerable children and adults.


In October 2009 through a partnership with the New York City Department of Education, we opened a wonderful 90,000 sq. ft. facility shared with a New York City public 6-12 grade school, to better serve the community.  Since moving into the new building we have increased the number of students in our education programs from about 300 to 1,500 and we launched a range of arts, education and public programs.


We are proud of the organization’s long history of achievement and the positive impact on the lives of thousands of people. We look forward to 80 more years of serving the youth and families of the South Bronx.

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