Community Voices

Spanish heritage ball benefits Coral Gables Community Foundation

‘The Biltmore Ball: Memories of Madrid’ black-tie attendees helped benefit the Coral Gables Community Foundation and raise for Coral Gables High School to attend college.
‘The Biltmore Ball: Memories of Madrid’ black-tie attendees helped benefit the Coral Gables Community Foundation and raise for Coral Gables High School to attend college.

The romance, beauty and heritage of Spain was all around the 400 attendees at “The Biltmore Ball: Memories of Madrid,” organized to benefit the Coral Gables Community Foundation and raise funds to help worthy Coral Gables High School students pursue their dreams of a college education.

The black-tie gala held Oct. 20 also celebrated the Foundation’s accomplishments over the past 26 years and honors were given to distinguished leaders in our community. The fundraiser was co-hosted for the third year in a row by Sissy DeMaria and Mary Young.

“It was a tremendous point of pride to unveil the latest edition of our gala — most especially in tandem with the Biltmore Hotel,” said Mary Snow, executive director of the Coral Gables Community Foundation, in a release. “This year’s event was a special tribute to Coral Gables, serving as a celebration of our City’s distinctive heritage and worldly roots.”

Miami’s philanthropic, social, civic and business influencers turned out in Spanish flare to celebrate the evening. They were serenaded by Spanish guitar during the cocktail reception and treated to a Baila Flamenco performance presented by Cosentino and the Spanish Office of Tourism.

Guests also bid on expensive vacations and gifts. The Biltmore’s grand ballroom was decorated in tapestries of brilliant red and gold, and guests were served Spanish delicacies prepared by 35-year industry veteran and award-winning executive chef David Hackett, executive pastry chef Oliver Rodriguez and Michael Vietta.

To learn about the good works of the Coral Gables Community Foundation visit And more on this year’s honorees is at

Quest for Peace art, discussion

The free annual Quest for Peace Panel Discussion and Juried Art Exhibition will be 5 p.m., Thursday at Miami Dade College/Kendall. The panel discussion starts at 5 p.m. in Building R, Room 402R with the opening of the Art Exhibition from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Kendall Gallery M123, Mat and Pat Fine Center for the Arts.

The event is in honor of Rotarian Robert Horwitz, also an artist and philosopher, who died in Miami on July 2, 2005. The goal of the art competition is to increase awareness for the promotion of peace and to financially assist art students.

“Bob derived much pleasure from his art and from his philosophy of life. It gives me pleasure to encourage young artists to pursue their art and to give thought to making a better world,” said Kendall resident and Rotarian Ilajean Horwitz, his wife.

MDC/Kendall and Miami Dadeland Pinecrest Rotary Club cosponsor this event. This year, the discussion topic is “Is it Morally Justifiable to Violently Resist Hate Groups?” Philosophy professor Kris Arca is the moderator and panelists include MDC and Florida International University professors Joshua Andrews, Alex Barrientos, Jason Fontana, Quiana Major, Glanda Ortega and Allison Sardinas.

The art exhibition will be open until Dec. 8. Bonnie Seeman, chairwoman of the MDC Department of Art and Philosophy, made all the arrangements, Ilajean Horwitz said.

Protecting historic sites

Just how do you stop a wrecking ball? Members of the Historic Preservation Association of Coral Gables and the Villagers want to educate citizens about the historic buildings in our community and teach how to protect these resources through historic designation legislation.

If this is your passion, the two organizations will present a workshop 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Friday at the Coral Gables Museum, 285 Aragon Ave. A working lunch will be provided and the event is free with registration. Robb and Stucky is sponsoring this event.

Sessions include: “How To Be Alert for Potentially Endangered Sites” by Megan McLaughlin, and “Designation. What It Means, Who Can Designate Historic Properties and How” by Sara Cody, Vickie Toranzo, and Dona Spain. The lunch session will be “Citizen Surveys and Recording Places of Interest” by Wendy Sczechowicz.

Write to to register. Without advanced reservations, there will be a $25 charge.

Help our community children

The JAFCO Chanukah Miracles Luncheon benefits children who have been abused and neglected as well as those with developmental disabilities. And this year the luncheon will honor Barbara Amoils, a long-time supporter, who has spent many years as co-chairwoman of the event. The Aventura/North Miami Dade chapter of JAFCO is hosting.

The luncheon is Nov. 16. The boutique opens at 10 a.m. and those who make a purchase by 11 a.m. will receive five free raffle tickets. Also featured will be a silent auction. The program will include the Godparent pinning ceremony to “acknowledge new members of the Godparent Circle, a group of donors who pledge to spiritually adopt all the children JAFCO serves in its group home, emergency shelter, family preservation and developmental disability programs.”

“It’s amazing to see such an outpouring of love from the community,” said Sarah Franco, JAFCO executive director, in email. “The Aventura/North Miami chapter has grown so much over the years. The generosity expressed by the chapter at the Chanukah Miracles Luncheon always puts smiles on the faces of our precious children during the holidays. That is a priceless gift.”

Tickets are $136 per person. Purchase by Nov. 12. Guests are asked to bring Target, Best Buy and Visa gift cards to help fulfill the wishes of 500 children who are assisted by JAFCO. For more information, contact Shelli Gold at 954-315-8671 or email

Enjoy a seasonal concert

Bring family and friends to celebrate fall and welcome the 39th season of the Greater Miami Symphonic Band at the “Grande Opening Concert,” 8 p.m., Nov. 14 at Gusman Concert Hall, 1314 Miller Dr., Coral Gables.

Led by music director Robert Longfield, with guest conductor Gary Green, the community group will feature the world premiere of Robert Tindel’s “Requiem,” among other classic band selections.

Tickets are $15 for adults, $5 for students and children over 5 years old. They are available at the box office the day of the concert or at

If you have news for this column, please send it to Christina Mayo at