East Portlanders awarded – for crime prevention efforts

See who was honored for taking action to improve their outer East Portland neighborhood, and how their volunteer-based programs helped …

-1 The Portland Office of Neighborhood Involvement’s Crime Prevention Program manager, Stephanie Reynolds, introduces the 2011 awards program on the steps of City Hall.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
While the Portland Police Bureau works to detect crime and apprehend criminals, another City of Portland agency – the Office of Neighborhood Involvement’s (ONI) Crime Prevention Program – works to organize and support community partnerships to prevent crime and the fear of crime.

“These crime prevention services are help reduce crime, increase livability, and get neighbors involved in community policing efforts,” said Jenni Bernheisel, one of ONI’s East Portland Crime Prevention specialists.

At the ONI Crime Prevention Awards ceremony, held in the plaza in front of City Hall on July 26, several citizen and organization volunteers were honored for their crime-thwarting activities.

Livability Award

Angela and Xavi Cortal receive the “Crime Prevention Livability Award” from Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz.

Dennis LoGiudice, of the City’s Graffiti-Abatement Program, presented the “Livability Award” to the Lents Neighborhood’s Xavi Cortal.

“ONI is offering neighborhoods in Portland the opportunity to spend a Saturday morning working with the City’s contractors for graffiti removal,” LoGiudice began.

Even though the heavy spring rains delayed the program’s start, LoGiudice said that Cortal wasn’t willing to wait for sunny weather – he wanted to get started in March!

“On March 26, we had no idea if we’d have only a few adults come to the clean-up; lo and behold we had 13 people in the group. Two of them were Angela and Xavi Cortal. When I told him the importance of documenting the graffiti before they removed it, and documenting what volunteers could not remove, they went back to their house and made a photo disk for me with images they’d taken, before they came back and turned in their supplies at the end of the volunteer event. They were hooked, I think.

“The Cortals are still volunteering to remove graffiti,” LoGiudice smiled. “This exactly the kind of thing that we hope will happen when we have these voluntary events – that somebody will take on the leadership role, and get on top of their neighborhood’s graffiti problem. Graffiti is visual pollution; it is vandalism. And, it’s also frightens people that it might be gang-related.

“We thank Angela and Xavi Cortal, and all the volunteers who are helping take back the City from people putting on graffiti.”

For more information about the City’s graffiti removal program, CLICK HERE.

Outstanding Youth Award

These former Marshall High School students – part of the SMASH group – backed by Crime Prevention Coordinator Rosanne Lee, say they’re thrilled that their efforts are being recognized at this event.

ONI Crime Prevention Specialist Rosanne Lee made the presentation of the “Outstanding Youth Award” to the Marshall High School SMASH (Students Making Ads for Social Health) organization next.

“These are just a few of the SMASH group,” Lee began.

“Young people are every bit as a dedicated to a safe community as are adults.” Lee said. “We love to learn about the innovative efforts of youth all over the city. This year, we are pleased to present at the outstanding unit award to the Marshall High School SMASH group.”

SMASH is an innovative program, Lee observed. “Their hard and inventive work brought student and community awareness to topics of a healthy lifestyle and the issues around the substance abuse.”

Representatives of the Marshall Campus SMASH program pause for a photo with their award, with Commissioner Amanda Fritz.

The program, we learned, connected youth and community focus groups to discuss drug abuse in their community – the Lents Neighborhood. They surveyed students on the Marshall Campus to determine the whether the perception that many students used marijuana was true.

“They discovered, to the contrary, that the vast majority of the student body were not regular marijuana users,” Lee stated. “They took this information and created a publicity campaign at the school – and throughout the community – that proved to have a positive effect on youth behavior, and led to the reduction of the use of drugs and related school problems.”

A survey six months later validated the theory, said one of the students, Halley Hagar – one of Marshall High’s final graduating class in 2011. “We also made a documentary video on the Rosewood Initiative; and we held a ‘town hall’ at a Lents Neighborhood Association meeting to discuss the issues surrounding the closing of Marshall High School, and how the community can support the families and students during this transition period.”

Even though the SMASH group will be pretty much disbanded as Marshall Campus underclassmen will be shuffled off to Franklin and Madison High Schools, the students say their work will have some lasting value. “Hopefully the program can continue at Franklin,” Hagar said.

Lee concluded, “What they’ve done clearly demonstrates that we should never underestimate the power of our youth to make a difference.”

See more about the project at their website: CLICK HERE.

As the commissioner in charge of ONI, Amanda Fritz congratulates all of the awardees at the 2011 presentation ceremony.

Also during the presentation, the Enhanced Safety Property Award was presented by Angela Wagnon to the New Columbia ESP Team. Public Safety Partner Awards were also presented to two businesses, Alpha Broadcasting and Rodda Paint. And finally, the Pennington Award was presented Fern Wilgus.

To find out how Portland’s Crime Prevention Program Coordinators can help you “take a bite out of crime”, see their official webpage: CLICK HERE.

© 2011 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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