Less than a week before all large gatherings were canceled or postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak, the Junior League of Greater Portland hosted an annual gala of about 250 people at Cellardoor at the Point in Portland.

The Junior League’s dressiest and largest social event of the year, held March 6, featured an eclectic playlist by the CIEE House Band, hors d’oeuvres by MANE Catering and plenty of wine.

“This is our biggest fundraiser of the year, and the money we raise here goes right back into the community,” said Katie Clark, vice president of public relations.

With sponsorships and live and silent auctions, the gala raised $12,700 to support the Junior League’s mission of developing the leadership potential of hundreds of Maine women with the training needed to volunteer where they are needed most.

“One of the achievements we’re most proud of this year was partnering with the City of Portland to assist with asylee families,” said President Eliza Warren Giberson. “And, in the past year, we’ve increased our direct service opportunities by 30 percent, working to support youths as they navigate the road from adolescence to adulthood.”

Junior League members – many of whom are financial consultants, real estate brokers, marketing consultants, insurance agents, lawyers or architects – form an army of volunteers to address the region’s most pressing needs. With a community impact goal of reaching youth at risk, the women of the league partner with the statewide nonprofit Community Partnerships for Protecting Children, My Place Teen Center in Westbrook and Miss Di’s Closet at East End Community School in Portland.

“The leadership training prepares you to serve on any board or organization and to manage a team of volunteers,” said immediate past president Shikha Vasaiwala, who serves on the boards of the Center for Grieving Children and Falmouth Memorial Library.

“People are always contacting us to join things because of the skills we develop on the Junior League,” said past president Sandy Couch Kelly, who serves on the board of the Falmouth Education Foundation.

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at [email protected]

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