In a gymnasium full of partygoers and ’80s-themed decorations and music, one thing stood above all else, a simple phrase painted onto the backboard of a basketball hoop: “An Honorable Victory or None.”

Welcome to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southern Maine’s Portland Clubhouse on Cumberland Avenue, a place where generations of young people have come to gather for sport, support and friendship. On April 7, a different group gathered to show its support for the organization and raise money for its programs.

“Over 300 people have gathered here tonight to support our five clubhouses in southern Maine,” said Christopher Cimino, board vice president and auction chair of Spring for the Kids, the organization’s 35th annual auction.

“We offer so much more here than basketball and swimming. There’s a real educational component, and we serve 90,000 meals a year. For some kids that come here after school, it’s the only meal they are getting.”

Guests perused the extensive silent auction tables and mingled with friends. Board member Ted O’Meara attended with Mandy Schumaker; Brandon Mitchell of Cape Elizabeth chatted with pals Jeff Halter and Shawn Gray, also of Cape Elizabeth, and Tom Manning, board member and owner of Miss Portland Diner.

“This is the biggest fundraiser of the year, and it’s also the most fun,” Manning said with a smile. “It’s held at a place that I spent a lot of time in as a kid. I have a lot of memories in this building.”

Past president John Ryan of Wright-Ryan Construction chatted with his wife, Jenny Scheu, and Anne Oliviero, a member of the auction committee; John Bennett, president of Oakhurst Dairy, attended with his wife, Abby Synder, the hospital-based teacher at Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center, and his sister, Jean Bennett Driscoll, executive assistant at Oakhurst Dairy; and Mary McQuillen, an avid supporter, spoke with board member Cheryl Bascomb.

“The kids who come here are from all walks of life, new immigrants and kids from a whole host of socio-economic backgrounds,” explained Bascomb. “This is a club for kids, and one of the most important things we do is serve meals and snacks to kids who might be food insecure. They are guaranteed something to eat each day. It’s a safe place to come have fun, play and learn.”

Kethia Ishami, a student at Deering High School, gathered with her friends Jonathan Rugema of Casco Bay High School and Alain Igiraneza and Jireh Nyarushatsi of King Middle School in the space they know well.

“We come here because we all play in a band, and this is where we practice,” said Rugema, whose group the Port City Rockers entertained guests during the sit-down dinner portion of the event. “We like it here.”

“It’s really fun,” chimed in Igiraneza. “It’s like a second family.”

Margaret Logan is a freelance writer who lives in Scarborough. She can be reached at:

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