Friday, May 18th our OHR team in Portland, Maine held a highly successful fundraiser for our Ekialo Kiona scholarship fund. Our ambitions were high: we were to throw joint silent auction/variety show with only three weeks of planning beforehand. We pulled it off and are thrilled to report that our fundraiser was a roaring success. We raised over 4,000 dollars, turned on hundreds of Portland community members to the work of OHR, and had a really great night.

Here’s how our evening went: The venue was Geno’s, a self-described rock club, and not exactly where you’d imagine a benefit. But as the Portland Phoenix wrote in our spotlight event listing, “Is anybody else noticing how flexible and thoughtful Geno’s is getting with their programming? They’re not shelving the power-metal shows, they’re just adding experimental theater, circus acts, and benefits for progressive nongovernmental organizations”, and on May 18th that benefit was for us! We started at five with food from some fabulous local chefs (along with donated cupcakes) and our auction. With items donated from about one hundred local businesses, we had something for everyone—we auctioned tattoos, jewelry, brunch, flowers, candy undergarments and excel workshops, even a stuffed alien tentacle. Early in the night we were honored to have Mat from the Frannie Peabody center (Portland’s only HIV treatment center) give a talk about their services followed by Adam and Ana who, befuddled by cables, spoke about OHR ultimately without PowerPoint. At nine the frantic work of our auction volunteers was done and the entertainment began. Belly dance, hip hop, folk, spoken word, and so much more, with 16 acts the entertainment was among the best Portland has ever seen together in one night. We had so much going on that at 1am we sadly had to cut a couple of burlesque numbers with the closing of the bar. What a night!

We give so many thanks to all of the performers, chefs, volunteers, Geno’s staff, and businesses who donated to our auction. Special thanks to Sheila and Steve Sewall for their tireless work on the silent auction, promotion, and setup. Brett Faulkner, our stage manager, booking agent, and helper extraordinaire, who first got involved when sitting at a coffee shop and overheard Ana talking about the event, he chirped in, “I love planning fundraisers!”, and the rest is history. Maggie Zall for volunteering to MC a day before the event. Thanks to Adam and Ana who did the rest. We love you Portland and we can’t wait to see you at next year’s fundraiser!