Lents Boys & Girls Club hosts summer fest

It’s great to see how Portland Police officers helped at this huge event …

Inside and out, the Wattles Boys & Girls Club is a hub of activity in the Lents neighborhood of outer East Portland, as the “Back to School Bash” is underway.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Word spread quickly through outer East Portland about the Wattles Boys & Girls Club’s “Back to School Bash”, held at the club on August 19.

Hundreds of kids and adults filled SE Harold Street east of 92nd Avenue, which was closed off for the afternoon event.

“We do this every year; it is truly a community event that we love to have here at the club,” said the Boys & Girls Club Southeast Area Director for Wattles and Oak Grove clubs, Tristan Penn.

Boys & Girls Club Southeast Area Director Tristan Penn shows one of the hundreds of backpacks, filled with school supplies, thast was given to kids at the summer fest.

“Over the last year, we’ve noticed that our community is changing, and we want to make sure club is on the front end of things, and that we’re helping to solidify our community for everyone in the area we serve,” Penn told East Portland News.

There were games, face painters, and many other activities to entertain and occupy visitors at the fair.

We’ve got backpacks that were donated from Kits for Kidz and by the Portland Police Bureau,” Penn said.

With all of the development taking place in Lents Town Center, the neighborhood is definitely changing, Penn observed. “We want to make sure that community members know that his this is their community, and nobody is going to push them out; and we’ll continue to provide resources – not only for the kids, but also their family members.”

Police Cadets Shelby Ganenbein and Renee Shaw serve hot dogs at the event.

“What I hope that comes out of this is building an increased sense of community, Penn said. “I know it’s already there, we just want to make sure that the club continues to be part of the community, and that we are a place for families and kids to come to.

“The turnout here today shows there is hope, and dedication, and passion, in the Lents community. Look at all of the smiling faces on kids and parents!”

Volunteer Tamie Gantenbein helps out at the free bike helmet fitting station.

Helping out at the event were Portland Police Bureau (PPB) officers, and a multitude of PPB Cadets.

“In addition to putting on a ‘Bike Fiesta’ to teach riding safety, we’ve also brought the PPB Mobile Precinct here so we can give people a tour, and use that as our safety station,” said PPB Sergeant Hank Hayes.

Portland Police Bureau Sergeant Hank Hayes shows the activity cards on which families check off participation in activities.

“We’re making sure that the kids have all the information we’re able to provide them about bicycle and pedestrian safety,” Hayes said. “And, we’re also looking to build some strong, positive long-lasting relationship with the community and with the youngsters here.”

PPB Officer Steve Morinville and School Resource Officer and weiner chef Deshawn Williams are here cooking the last of the 750 hot dogs served at the “back to school bash”.

From station to station families and kids traveled, enjoying all the activities, getting free gift backpacks, and enjoying a hot dog lunch.

The Wattles Boys & Girls Club is located at 9330 SE Harold Street, 97226. For more information, see their official webpage: CLICK HERE.

© 2017 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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