Gala History

When Home Builder’s Association leaders created the Metro Portland Housing Industry Foundation 25 years ago, they decided to bankroll the new venture with a big party. “Indiana George and the First Crusade” was the inaugural event’s theme back in 1998, chaired by HBA leader George Lorance. As HBA CEO Dave Nielsen explains “The first auctions were led by HBA and HBF leaders, and the themes were based on them”. For nearly ten years, the Chairs were immortalized by caricatures on the auction catalogs covers.

Theme Party Favorites

Former HBF President Luke Morley recalls his favorite moment from past auctions was during the 2009 Wizard of Oz event.  While costumed as the Wicked Witch of the West , “Kim Wheeler warned the usually unruly auction crowd that she would “unleash the flying monkeys” if they didn’t behave during the speaker’s presentation… we had two guys in flying monkey suits create havoc by running through the stunned crowd”! He also loved the 2010 Rockin’ Auction, featuring Portland notables like NFL veteran Joey Harrington and Bill Schonely, along with KISS impersonators.

By 2013, the auction morphed into a gussied-up affair, booking elegant downtown Portland ballrooms with themes such as “Black and White” and “Silver and Crystal” Galas. As HBF Executive Director Brenda Ketah explains, renaming the event “Building Hope Gala and Auction” in 2015 reflects the HBF auction’s evolution. The money raised by the Gala grew exponentially as well. According to Morley “The Foundations story has grown over the years and our messaging has gotten more sophisticated.  The housing industry has been on a sustained period of success, so people are more willing to give”.

Another example is the designer vest HBF founder Rudy Kadlub tells us was literally sold off his George Lorance’s back when he wore it to the first HBF auction, a tradition that continues today and has raised $44,000 for the Foundation.

Not even a global pandemic lessened enthusiasm for the Gala. As HBF Development Manager Kyle Ellerbe proclaims “We never cancel! We just shifted”. While 2020’s event was fully virtual, the Gala came roaring back in 2021 at Tumwater Vineyards with a hybrid event. HBF kept guests safe under a tent, and offered a live stream for people who felt more comfortable at home. Our 2022 fully in -person event returns to Tumwater Vineyard and sold out months in advance.

2021 Chair Gordon Root

Morley is proud of the Gala’s trajectory. “I think the key element for the Gala’s staying power is simply a result of great leadership from the HBF Board and Exec leadership.   They have adapted to hard times and made the most of the good times.  I think it’s as simple as that.” HBF auction guests appear to agree with him. While our first HBF’s first Auction raised $40,000, we are proud that our totals have reached nearly $500,000 24 years later.

Gala History

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