US Senator Robert Menendez and 225 other supporters enjoyed an evening of cocktails, dinner, and dancing in celebration of La Casa de Don Pedro’s 40th Anniversary on Wednesday, April 4th, 2012 at Newark’s Prudential Center.
The event celebrated the social service and community development corporation’s 40th Anniversary and recognized the city’s treasured places, institutions, and rising leaders. Landmark Institution honorees were Branch Brook Park, Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart, New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart, The New Jersey Historical Society, New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Newark City Hall, Newark Museum, Newark Public Library, Newark Symphony Hall, Rutgers-Newark, and WBGO Jazz 88.3 FM Radio. Recognized individuals included prominent Newark figures as well as unsung heroes. They were parent and teacher Bernadina Alcocer, college student Kevin Gonzalez, Monsignor William J. Linder of New Community Corporation, the late Congressman Donald Payne, Just One Soccer Executive Director Oscar Rodriguez, and community organizer Movena Ross.
The evening was led by Lynda Baquero, NBC 4 New York Consumer Reporter. Other speakers were Zoraya E. Lee-Hamlin, La Casa’s Board President, Senator Robert Menendez, Prudential Foundation Vice President Shané Harris, and Executive Director Raymond Ocasio.
“Forty years ago Newark needed to come together as a community,” said Senator Menendez. “It needed healing. La Casa saw this need and took on the commitment to roll up its sleeves and begin to rebuild. Since then it has maintained its dedication to working hard, empowering individuals and families, and of course revitalizing neighborhoods. My sincerest congratulations to La Casa de Don Pedro, for not only being a Newark Treasure, but a gift to New Jersey as a whole, ¡Bien Hecho!.”
Among the attendees were members of La Casa’s 40th Anniversary Honorary Committee, including Joel Bloom, President of NJIT, Deborah Boatright, Regional Director of NeighborWorks America, NJ Assemblyman Thomas Giblin, Senator Menendez, Newark Museum Director Mary Sue Sweeney Price, Irvington Mayor Wayne Smith, as well as Newark Municipal Councilman Donald Payne Jr.
The night’s entertainment was the Mambo Legends Orchestra, featuring the former All Stars of the Tito Puente Orchestra. The Mambo Legends Orchestra is led by John ‘Dandy’ Rodriguez, Mitch Frohman and musically directed by Jose Madera, each having spent over 25 years working with Tito Puente.
Sponsors of the event were Prudential, Citi Community Development, Chase, PSEG, Banco Popular, Bank of America, McCarter & English, Verizon, Wells Fargo, WithumSmith+Brown, City National Bank, Horizon NJ Health, Lowenstein Sandler, North Jersey Federal Credit Union, PNC Bank, Sovereign Bank, and TD Bank.
“We were thrilled to have such high level participation and world renowned entertainment at the Gala,” said Raymond Ocasio, Executive Director. “Demand for our services is greater than ever before and we are grateful for the enormous support we have received. What better way to spend an evening supporting a great cause in good company while enjoying musical talent on the dance floor.”
Photos of the Gala can be viewed by clicking HERE.