Jessie Doneth at the Salem Dream Center Havana Nights event on Thursday, July 22. (Mary Louise VanNatta - Special to Salem Reporter)

Events are back. This was confirmed when 250 guests gathered at Cubanisimo Vineyards on July 22 for the Salem Dream Center’s Havana Nights fundraiser.  The event raised approximately $50,000.

Since 2004, the Salem Dream Center has helped families overcome poverty by providing educational services, mentoring, and food. The center focuses on the Edgewater neighborhood and reports on its website that the juvenile crime rate in the area is 31% lower than in similar communities.

Cubanisimo Vineyards is owned by Dr. Maurice and Deb Collada. Collada, a neurosurgeon, was born in Havana, Cuba.  His parents left everything they had to bring Maurice and his four siblings to the U.S., and he cherishes the opportunities provided for him. 

He celebrates his heritage through  winemaking at Cubanisimo (“very Cuban”) Vineyards.  

Food was provided by Livi’s, whose operator was once one of the Dream Center kids.

It was a gorgeous , sunny yet cool evening at the West Salem winery. Son de Cuba (the Cuban sound) performed music. Skilled salsa dancers like Orlando Pacheco Acevedo and Denisse Maciel danced, but their experience didn’t discourage others from trying to keep up.  

Attendees bought tickets for auction items.  Board President Jessie Doneth made sure no one missed a chance to win some of the great prizes. A short presentation from nonprofit founders Craig and Renee’ Oviatt was interpreted in sign language by Holly Hockman.

The Salem Dream Center’s next major event will be their Christmas Tree Auction on Dec. 3  at West Salem Ace Hardware.

Learn more at  Salem Dream Center, (971) 599-3166, or [email protected]. Text to give to their organization at 503-461-9300.

Orlando Pacheco Acevedo and Denisse Maciel dance at the Salem Dream Center Havana Nights event on Thursday, July 22. (Mary Louise VanNatta - Special to Salem Reporter)

Rich Shultz, Chelsea Lally, and Mary and Jim Eastridge attend the Salem Dream Center Havana Nights event on Thursday, July 22. (Mary Louise VanNatta - Special to Salem Reporter)

Holly Hockman interprets for Renee’ and Craig Oviatt at the Salem Dream Center Havana Nights event on Thursday, July 22. (Mary Louise VanNatta - Special to Salem Reporter)

Maurice and Deb Collada, owners of Cubanisimo, at the Salem Dream Center Havana Nights event on Thursday, July 22. (Mary Louise VanNatta - Special to Salem Reporter)

Jeremy & Heidi Mackay and Scott and Krystal Norman attend the Salem Dream Center Havana Nights event on Thursday, July 22. (Mary Louise VanNatta - Special to Salem Reporter)

Brad and Desiree Hilliard attend the Salem Dream Center Havana Nights event on Thursday, July 22. (Mary Louise VanNatta - Special to Salem Reporter)

Guests at Cubanisimo at the Salem Dream Center Havana Nights event on Thursday, July 22. (Mary Louise VanNatta - Special to Salem Reporter)

Son De Cuba plays at the Salem Dream Center Havana Nights event on Thursday, July 22. (Mary Louise VanNatta - Special to Salem Reporter)

Mary Louise VanNatta is a Salem public relations professional, writing regularly about events for Salem Reporter. 

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