Supporting Arts And Education, The Casita Maria Annual Holiday Party

December 19, 2023

As is her tradition, Jacqueline Weld Drake graciously opened her Park Avenue residence to welcome the children’s choir from the Casita Maria Center for Arts & Education.

Impeccably attired, the students eagerly anticipated meeting “Miss Jackie,” who had prepared presents for them beneath her Christmas tree and later treated them to a splendid dinner. They joyfully performed classic tunes like Jingle Bells, Silent Night, We Wish You A Merry Christmas, a lively Feliz Navidad, and a new anthem, Casita María Está de Fiesta. The hostess declared, “This is what Christmas is all about. This evening fills us with pride. We need a Christmas not only now but throughout the entire year.”

Felix Urrutia, Casita’s recently appointed Executive Director, emphasized the heightened importance of Casita Maria’s mission post-Covid. He stated, “In all my years working with students in the Bronx, our work has never been more crucial — providing education, tutoring, and guiding students toward success.”

The annual William E. Simon Scholarship, recognizing academic excellence in a New York Roman Catholic High School, was awarded to Jorge Gabriel Neira Jr. He graciously accepted the award alongside his mother, Maria Jose Chusan-Neira, and his sister. Jorge aspires to become a doctor.

Among the distinguished guests were board members Martha Bograd, George Corton, Sissi Fleitas, Michele Gerber Klein, Alberto Mariaca, as well as Steven Aronson, Beth Rudin DeWoody, Mercedes Levin, Harlem World Magazine, president, CC Minton, Alicia Lubowski-Jahn, Liz and Jeff Peek, Marc Rosen, and Sabrina Wirth.


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“…the oldest Latin charity in New York City…”

Casita Maria Center for Arts & Education, the oldest Latin charity in New York City, continues to deliver high-quality arts education to over 1,000 students daily. Situated in the South Bronx, the country’s poorest zip code, Casita Maria fosters a safe and inclusive community, uplifting youth and families while nurturing well-rounded individuals who go on to achieve their dreams.

Photo credit: 1) Casita Maria Choir. 2) Marc Rosen, Harlem World Magazine, president, CC Minton. 3) Hilary Latos, Dr. Nicholas Perricone. 4) Hernan Acuña, Alicia Kapland. 5) Hernan Acuña, Alicia Kapland. 6) Martha Bograd, Christie Alcid, Tracy Fortson. 7) Sissi Fleitas, Terry Mullen, Colleen Waters, Alicia Lubowski, Victor Roquette. 8) Jorge Gabriel Neira Jr, Jackie Weld Drake, Maria Jose Chusan-Neira. 9) Christmas tree. Photos by John Sanderson for Annie Watt Agency.

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