Lents dinner raises funds as it builds community

See why Lents area residents and their friends gathered for dinner at the New Copper Penny for this special event …

Roger Jones and Nancy Chapin are being checked in by Jess Laventall and Dewey Akers as the Annual Lents Summer Concert Series Benefit Dinner gets underway at the New Copper Penny restaurant.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
When we saw folks streaming into the New Copper Penny Pantheon Ballroom on SE 92nd Avenue between SE Foster Road and SE Woodstock Boulevard a couple of weeks ago, we knew it was time, once again, for the annual benefit – confirmed by the greeting we received.

“Welcome to our Lents Summer Concert Series Benefit Dinner,” smiled Dewey Akers, Lents Neighborhood Association Chair.

“This is a fundraiser for our music series,” explained Akers. “It’s going to be fabulous this year – centered both on American folk music and world folk music.”

Judy Welch, former Lents Neighborhood Chair and community supporter, and John Tzantarmas manager of the New Copper Penny, pause for a moment.

Woody Guthrie commemorated
One weekend of the August music series will be devoted to Woody Guthrie. “A lot of people don’t know it, but he was a Lents resident when he wrote for the Bureau of Public Works Administration,” Akers explained. “Two other events will be presenting some tremendous folk artists. What we want to do is create a ‘folk festival’ – a music series in a park venue, unique in Portland.”

This annual benefit dinner is also a fundraiser for upcoming Lents Founders Day events. Additionally, some of the funds will support the neighborhood’s “Movies in the Park”, and support live entertainment at the Lents International Farmers Market.

Karen Young, executive director of Leach Botanical Garden, and Metro Counselor Robert Liberty come to lend their support for this “I Love Lents” community event.

Event strengthens community bonds
The host of the event, John Tzantarmas – who, along with his father, owns the venerated New Copper Penny Restaurant – said he enjoys putting on the event.

“I think it’s great,” Tzantarmas beamed. “Every time we get the neighborhood together, it’s a good thing. Events like this bring neighbors together to talk with one another. Neighbors can talk with business people, and mingle with our community partners as well.”

We asked why business owners host community events like this. Tzantarmas replied, “In our business, we are part of the community; we’ve been here for 35 years and seen it grow and change. We’re in the hospitality business, and we like helping out the community that has supported us for so long.”

Ready to feast on a great three-course dinner, prepared for the benefit by the New Copper Penny Restaurant, is Leslie Hildula and Erika Miller.

Dinner and a show
After being served a three-course dinner, attendees were serenaded by folk musicians, and were awarded raffle prizes provided by local business people.

Metro Counselor Robert Liberty commented at the benefit, “I’m delighted to attend; I haven’t been an event quite like this before. This is a good sign of a healthy community. Having events like this shows real support by and for the community. Plus it’s just fun.”

Look for information regarding the Lents concerts, movies, and Founder’s Day activities in our August, 2008, Community calendar. Or, for more information online, CLICK HERE.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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