The skies over Tumwater Vineyard started to clear just in time to give shine to the sparkling silver worn by party goers for Home Builders Foundation’s 25th Anniversary bash. The Building Hope Gala and Auction, presented by California Closets drew an enthusiastic crowd to the winery tasting room in the late afternoon for the VIP reception. To the backdrop of music from the Hit Machine, the hard- working Gala committee team led by Sybil Fontaine struck a pose for the photo booth in their splashy gowns. Guests enjoyed wine and signature cocktails at the lively pre-function. Current and former members of Home Builder’s Foundation board joined many new friends and supporters of the Foundation’s projects and workforce development efforts.
As the sun broke through the clouds, guests headed into the enormous tent that was needed for the sold- out event of nearly 350 guests. HBF President Jason Waugh welcomed the guests, and encouraged them to “Be someone who makes everyone feel like somebody”. The tent was designed for “glamping”, featuring elegant 25th Anniversary theme colors of silver, white, and Tiffany blue. The signature sponsor California Closets had its name projected in lights. The scrumptious menu was enjoyed by all, surrounded by lovely white hydrangea and rose centerpieces created by our volunteer team.
The auction began with a welcome back to a fully in-person event from six-time emcee Adam Bjaranson, who remarked that our 2021 Gala “drew one of the biggest crowds of any nonprofit event that year in Portland”. The crowd was first treated to a video origin story of Home Builder’s Foundation, featuring Founder Rudy Kadlub. On video, Kadlub reflected “The ability to give back, not just with money but expertise and hands on work, is a wonderful feeling. I am so proud of the home builders here in the Portland Metro region”. Comments from long- time HBF leaders Pat Ritz and Luke Morley helped inspire the participants to give generously.
The live auction that followed was very spirited. Auction items included an overflowing tequila basket donated by HBA current and former board members. Home Builders Foundation board members had a boozy collection of their own, focused on whisky. In fact, the board collected so much, donations had to be split into two baskets, one for international, and one for whiskey made in the USA.
No one could have prepared for the overwhelming response to the American whiskey collection. Bidding for the basket was announced as a tribute to the late HBF board member Mike Harn of Anlon Construction, an Army veteran who died of cancer earlier this year. The auctioneers worked the room, watching the total raise to $ 16,000. In a surprise announcement, HBF board member Jason Behunin of Builders FirstSource and Nate Bond of Pacific Crest Building Supply Cabinets agreed to split the cost of the basket and to put it on the block again. That inspired another $4,000 donation. Then, the re-sale drew $9,000. The crowd rose to their feet for a rousing standing ovation when auctioneers announced the $29,000 total raised in Harn’s name. Former HBF Board chair Morley is astounded “I’ve been to 20+HBF auctions and never witnessed that kind of a moment honoring Mike Harn”.
The live bidding featured other fun items, such a chance to purchase trips both in the US, or around the world. The chair of the first HBF auction George Lorance pitched his donation of a valuable original oil painting via a video presentation. And his vest that had been sold right off his back at the first auction in 1998 went up for auction for its 25th time.
Once the live auction items ended, it was time to remind folks of why they were there, which was to support the shelter building projects HBF completes with the generosity and labor of the home building industry. The audience enjoyed a video presentation of one of those projects, St. Johns Village, which is operated by Do Good Multnomah. This successful village features 19 tiny homes and common buildings designed by Convergence Architecture Base Design + Architecture, and built by Placecraft Design and Build , along with Builder Captain Nathan Young of MODS PDX.
Do Good Multnomah’s Chris Aiosa credits Home Builders Foundation for helping their vision for the Village come to life. “We were able to build housing like we wanted to build housing. There wasn’t any red tape, or bureaucracy. It was just building housing with dignity”. He praises staff Chris McDowell, Brenda Ketah, and Kyle Ellerbe, saying Do Good could not have built St. John’s nor its other project at Clackamas Veterans Village without HBF.
With those inspiring words, and further remarks from Honorary Chair Chip Wallace of Standard TV & Appliance, the auctioneers began asking for all Gala guests to show their support for the Foundation. A major $10,000 donation from the Ritz Family Foundation presented by Kelly Ritz kicked off the paddle raise. Generous pledges to fund future HBF shelter projects totaled $100,000.
The historic nature of the Anniversary Gala was brought home through closing words from HBF Executive Director Brenda Ketah, who brought Founder Kadlub back on stage for a gift of a photo collage from his many appearances on the behalf of Foundation. Kadlub admitted “You almost made me cry”. Attendees loudly applauded him and the other important contributors to the first quarter- century of HBF. More than 700 beds are slept in each night in the Portland area because of their hard work.
With the silent auction continuing for a few more days, the total amount raised during the 25th Anniversary Gala is still being tallied. Auction Chair Sybil Fontaine summed it up the night: “What an incredible Gala…we can’t do what we do, without every one of you”. The breathtaking sunset that settled over the tent lent a fitting end to a beautiful evening.