Marc Anthony & Henry Cárdenas, Co-Founders of Maestro Cares Foundation, Host NYC Gala Fundraiser to Help Disadvantaged Children in Latin America [Video]
On Tuesday night, stars, media moguls, entrepreneurs, and philanthropists dressed to the nines filed New York's glamorous Cipriani Wall Street in support of Marc Anthony and entrepreneur Henry Cárdenas' Maestro Cares Foundation that benefits homeless and neglected children in developing Latin American countries.
The black tie dinner, hosted by the Bravo networks' "Million Dollar Listing" star Luis Ortiz, also honored three trailblazers that "have made significant contributions to the well-being of children and are actively involved with other charitable causes worldwide."
The Community Hero Award was presented to World Golf Hall of Fame Inductee and Co-Founder of The Chi Chi Rodriguez Foundation, Chi Chi Rodriguez, Meera T. Gandhi CEO and Founder of The Giving Back Foundation was honored with the Global Humanitarian Award, and the honor for Excellence in Corporate Social Responsibility was awarded to Marcelo Claure, CEO of Sprint Corporation.
With his beautiful wife Shannon de Lima by his side, Anthony rocked the red carpet in a sharp black suit, but also took the time to genuinely express his affection for The Maestro Cares Foundation with Latin Post during its Second Annual "Changing Lives, Building Dreams" gala fundraiser.
The 46-year-old beloved singer and devoted father, who has been praised by his ex-wife Jennifer Lopez for loving all of his children, including their six-year-old twins Max and Emme, was greatly impacted by witnessing the grave conditions that Latin American children endure and knew he had to do something about it.
"When I stop and think about it, my partner (Cárdenas) and I took on the challenge. It was quite personal," he pointed out. "We went to meet these kids; there were 48 kids in a three-bedroom house. They had a roof over their heads and they ate, but they were sleeping on the floor. And immediately I said, 'As long as I am alive, these kids are not going to sleep on the floor anymore. They got dealt a raw set of cards as it is, and I am just not putting up with it.'
"And we did it, and less than a year later we brought ground on the 5-acre compound in La Romana, (Orfanato Niños de Cristo in La Romana Dominican Republic). Last year at this time, we had a gala here and it wasn't open. In that year, we had a commitment to build six more within the year in Peru, Bolivia, Colombia -- Barranquilla, which opens in two months and three in Mexico, and next is Puerto Rico and one in the United States in less than a year. Don't just talk about it, be about it."
"Yes, April 11, we have one opening up in Barranquilla," said Cárdenas, who is a native of Colombia and is especially proud. "It's awesome."
Fresh off a mini-New Jersey/New York tour, there's no sign that the Puerto Rican New Yorker is slowing down anytime soon whether it involves music or philanthropy. "That's what I do! I had a nice day off with the babies yesterday. You learn how to rest, whether it's 15 minutes at a time..."It's exciting, it's invigorating. Thank God I am not tired," Anthony laughed.
Marcelo Claure, CEO of Sprint Corporation and a native of Bolivia was extremely honored for the recognition.
"It's pretty cool. It's nice to be recognized when you give back to the community," he said. "I think we're used to being recognized in the business world for your business achievements, but it's awesome when people recognize and they see that you are quietly giving back. It's such a great cause. Giving back to children, that's what life is all about."
As a pioneer in business, does Claure have any advice for aspiring Latino entrepreneurs?
"I think Latino entrepreneurs have an edge. I think we are twice as good as anybody else because we can be Hispanics and we can be Americans at the same time. What we have to do, is work, hard and dream big and great things will happen," he added.
"In 2006, I co-founded one laptop per child, which was to give a computer to every kid. We started in Latin America and that was really close to me," he explained. "Now we've delivered more than three million machines to kids. Now, at three years old or 45-years old they are all Googling things, and they are connected to the biggest library in the world, which is the Internet. Now it's about how to give back to my country...seeing what's going on where kids are in the streets, they don't have money to eat, some of them resort to prostitution and if I can help with Marc, we want to open a new orphanage in Bolivia. Our goal is to take as many kids as we can off the street, put them in home, give them medication, teach them the basics in life and hopefully they will become great citizens of the world."
In January 2012, The Maestro Cares Foundation was launched by Anthony and Cárdenas to aid disadvantaged children throughout Latin America by creating healthy and safe environments for them to live, learn and play. Maestro Cares also provides housing, classrooms, health clinics, dining and recreational activities.
Maestro Cares Foundation held the grand opening of its first project, Orfanato Niños de Cristo in La Romana Dominican Republic on April 2, 2014. The full service campus is now home to over 150 children. On Aug. 14, 2014, the organization celebrated the ground breaking of our second project, an orphanage and school in Barranquilla, Colombia, which will open its doors to over 200 children on April 11. Other projects are planned in Mexico and Peru, among others.
Ortiz, who brought added pizazz as the host of the event, also shared his excitement to lend his support to the cause.
"I am looking forward to making sure that people truly, truly understand what the foundation is about. ... You know, most of these people, they go to a lot of foundations and they hear that they're supporting causes and all sorts of different amazing things that foundations are doing, but I really want them to actually understand beyond the words of what this foundation really is, and they can be a part of that and they can really embrace the money that they are giving," he said.
As a native of Puerto Rico, who has risen to the top of the real estate game in New York with the Bravo Networks' "Million Dollar Listing" as a platform, Ortiz has a personal connection to Maestro Cares.
"I was born and raised in Puerto Rico, so I am a true Hispanic and we have so much good culture and so much good energy and so much talent and so much ability - and most of these kids don't even know they have, or they cannot dream of having because they don't know how to..." he added. "This foundation, what it's doing is pretty much giving them the rights around things so that they can be the best people they can be and hopefully change the world someday."