By Wendy Coschignano Ford on Thursday, March 21, 2024

We are thrilled with the success of our second annual Gala event, “Havana Nights.” Like last year, more than 300 members of the Osceola community and guests came out to support the Osceola Council on Aging (OCOA) and our celebratory, Cuban themed fundraiser located at the Barney E. Veal Center in Kissimmee.

The evening was an amazing celebration of multiple initiatives. Our program highlighted the history and inception of the OCOA more than 53 years ago; our work, challenges, where we have fought, persevered, and exceeded beyond our wildest imaginations to become the largest social services organization in Osceola County. It was an evening full of accolades to community members and the resolve of individuals who have supported this organization for decades.

The event also reflected the overwhelming support of our volunteers and business partners who help us serve, feed, and often, financially support thousands of individuals in the Osceola community.

We are happy to announce, in conjunction with support from the community, local business partners and volunteers, we raised more than $25,000 through donations, sponsorships, and our expansive silent auction charity.

It was a privilege to host a multitude of Osceola County leaders, dignitaries, local law enforcement, Council employees (both past and present) and their family members for an evening of Cuban cuisine, fun, entertainment, and sought after auction items including trips, theatre tickets, wine packages, theme park opportunities, and a myriad of gift baskets.

A cocktail party kicked off the evening with a subsequent Cubano dinner, followed by Hispanic and Latino traditions of Havana, including vibrant decorations, costumes, dance, salsa, and rumba style music. The whole event reflected Cuba’s heritage of African, Spanish, and Caribbean hospitality which are heavily present in the diverse make-up of the Osceola community as well. Another highlight of the evening was a cigar bar hosted by Old Fashioned Cigars.

Paradigm Band provided the evening’s entertainment, with food for both the cocktail party and dinner catered by Millenia Catering, with desserts by Tomato Express and Ice by Taylor.

After more than five decades, the OCOA continues to be blessed with support from a myriad of avenues to host fundraising initiatives like this which are invaluable to our organization. Without such support, our organization could not excel in our mission of both providing and expanding services to enable independence and self-sufficiency for local seniors, disabled adults, the disadvantaged, and families living in poverty. Together, we continue to make a substantial difference in the lives of thousands of residents living in the Osceola community.

I am always humbled to see so many individuals who genuinely care about our organization’s mission. I thank everyone who was present, and those who could not attend but were there in spirit, for your ongoing support for this astounding organization.