The crowd watches local band LoveBomb Go-Go perform at Portland Monthly's 2018 Light a Fire awards at the Portland Art Museum.

Image: Tom Cook

There’s a half dozen excellent ways you could spend a Thursday night in late November in this town, but only one of them will let you get dressed up all nice and immerse you in the stories of people and organizations doing important and inspiring work to make our city and state better for everyone—while you listen to the Portland Gay Men’s Chorus belt their signature tunes, and, let’s face it, sip probably one too many glasses of fine Oregon pinot.

That’s Portland Monthly’s Light a Fire awards gala, held Thursday, Nov. 21 at the Oregon Convention Center. Every year, for the past 15 years, Portland Monthly shines a light on the individuals and organizations dedicated to improving our communities with our Light a Fire nonprofit awards. We collect nominations all year long and choose the winners with the help of a crack panel of foundation, corporate-giving, and nonprofit leaders. We devote space to our honorees' stories in the pages of the November issue of our magazine (check it out here). And then? Well, we fete them in person in a glitzy awards ceremony hosted by a seven-foot tall drag queen. That’s just tradition, people.

Q Center Executive Director Cameron Whitten accepts the 2018 "Most with the Least" Light a Fire award on behalf of his organization.

Image: Tom Cook

There’s no silent auction. No paddle-raising. Simply the celebration of the raw, rich stories of your friends and neighbors who make time to do good for all, along with dinner and a few surprises (and a raffle packed with glittery goodies and luxe getaways). You may be seated next to the folks who breathe life into The Immigrant Story (2019’s Best New Nonprofit) or the passionate crew behind KairosPDX (Exceptional Community Contribution). Or stand in line for a cocktail with Extraordinary Volunteer Debi Hays, who can tell you what it’s like to foster 18 guide dogs for the blind in the course of four years. Or get wild on the after party dance floor with longtime LGBTQ activist and 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award Winner Rupert Kinnard (a man already legend for his DJ sets and dance parties).

This our 15th year of Light a Fire, presented by Bank of America and Cambia Health Solutions, and we hope you’ll join us. 

Intrigued? Read all about our 2019 Light a Fire award winners here. Inspired? Come meet them in person.

We’re all in this together.

The 15th Annual Light a Fire Awards

6 p.m., November 21, Oregon Convention Center

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