The Junior League of Portland’s annual Fire & Ice Fete generated a lot of interest this year, selling out and raising $20,000 to further the organization’s mission.

“We got a really amazing response,” said Shannon Vachon, chair of the Feb. 10 event at Cellardoor Winery at Thompson’s Point in Portland. “We’ve seen the most amount of sponsorships that we’ve seen in the past four years.”

In addition to being the largest annual fundraiser for the group of women volunteers and the perfect excuse to dress to the nines, the fete is an opportunity to honor a change-maker in the community. The 2017 recipient was Tiffanie Panagakos, unit director of the Riverton and Sagamore Boys & Girls Clubs of Southern Maine.

“I couldn’t be happier,” said Panagakos, who attended the event with her fiancé, Bruce Shepard, and several of her colleagues from the Boys & Girls Clubs. She said the Junior League approached her nine years ago about the Kids in the Kitchen event, and “it fit right in with our Boys & Girls Club mission and goals: healthy lifestyles, character leadership and academic success.”

“Tiffanie has been working with new members every year for as long as I’ve been part of the league, so it was very exciting to see her honored,” said Shikha Vasaiwala, who will be president of the Junior League of Portland in 2018. “And there was something about the venue this year that generated a lot of excitement and helped us sell a lot of tickets.”

“We’re training women leaders and working on some of the most urgent or underfunded issues in Greater Portland,” said Katie Clark, president of the Junior League of Portland. These issues include human trafficking prevention and awareness, in partnership with the Maine Freedom Project, and child abuse and neglect prevention, working with the Community Partnerships for Protecting Children, part of Opportunity Alliance.

The local league has 278 members, including 82 women who are actively volunteering. “That’s 82 women who are committed to working to improve the community,” Clark said. “That’s a lot of woman power.”

“The Junior League is a training organization to learn how to make a difference in nonprofits,” said Jillian Rich, president-elect. “As women leaders and volunteers, whether in the Junior League or other nonprofits in the Portland area, we feel empowered to make a difference.”

With the league’s current focus on youth at risk, event organizers brought in the Maine Youth Rock Orchestra to set the musical tone for the event.

“It was a really fun environment to perform in,” said Kevin Oates, founder and director of the group, adding that he was pleased to see guests talking with and congratulating his student musicians between songs.

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer from Scarborough. She can be reached at:

[email protected]