Three outer East Portlanders awarded for outstanding community service

Take a look and see who took home Spirit of Portland Awards this year – and discover why they were chosen …

People gather for the presentation of the 2012 Spirit of Portland Awards.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
From among 50 nominations submitted by the community, winners and friends of the seventeen 2012 Spirit of Portland Awards convened at the Double Tree Hilton Portland, in the Lloyd District, for the cheerful event.

-2 Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz welcomes those attending this, the 27th annual “Spirit of Portland Awards” presentation ceremony.

“This is one of my favorite events of the year,” remarked Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, who oversees the Office of Neighborhood Involvement – which runs the awards selection process – as she convened the October 29th event.

“We’re here to celebrate the good things that people do right in our community;  and we’re pleased to be here to honor them,” Fritz said, before introducing Portland Mayor Sam Adams.

Mayor Adams first presented to awardees he had personally nominated: Community benefactor Gwyneth Gamble Booth, and Portland Community College President Dr. Preston Pulliams.

Arlene Kimura – Outstanding Partnership Award

Portland Mayor Sam Adams presents the 2012 Spirit of Portland Outstanding Partnership Award to Hazelwood’s Arlene Kimura.

Then, Adams invited up a person well known to many in outer East Portland – Hazelwood Neighborhood Association Chair Arlene Kimura.

Adams began by observing that Kimura serves as both Land-Use Chair and Neighborhood Association Chair for Hazelwood. “Because of her unique experience and knowledge of outer East Portland neighborhoods, Arlene plays a key role in the East Portland Action Plan (EPAP) – first as an active community member, developing the plan over two years, and also for three years as co-chair of the group working to implement the Plan. With Arlene’s leadership, EPAP has made progress on many of the changes identified as critical to improving East Portland livability, while preventing displacement.”

Arlene Kimura listens as Mayor Adams reads her biography.

“Arlene has demonstrated civic values by serving on numerous citizen advisory committees throughout her volunteerism – including the Portland Streetcar System Concept Plan; Community Residential Siting Advisory Committee (CSAC); Environmental Code Improvement Project; Gateway Regional Center Design Guidelines; Gateway Redevelopment, Urban Plaza and Neighborhood Park, and more,” Adams continued.

“She volunteers at numerous community events, including neighborhood clean-ups, trail work for both Metro & the City, on-site work parties and events at Gateway Green, neighborhood tours, East Portland Concerts, and more.

Mayor Sam Adams shows his affection for neighborhood volunteer extraordinaire Arlene Kimura.

“Her involvement in civic life is dedicated. Arlene frequently testifies, orally and in writing, before the City Council, the Planning Commission, PDC, Metro, Multnomah County Commission, and more. She also attends many open houses, public hearings, and cultural events.

“If that’s not enough she’s also worked with a committee that has brought summer concerts to outer East Portland,” Adams concluded.

Arlene Kimura graciously accepts her Spirit of Portland Award.

After receiving her award, Kimura stepped up to the microphone and responded, “This award is really for everyone who put up with me, and put in all the hard work to help get things done.”

After the ceremony, Kimura told East Portland News, “I’m grateful for the fact that people recognize that partnerships are one of the ways we can really do a lot with just a little.

“I appreciate the opportunity to show that partnerships can work really well,” Kimura added. “And I also think the partners – because as I said – they put up with me!”

Gigi Lambert – Community Harmony Award

Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard presents a 2012 Spirit of Portland Community Harmony Award to PTA Clothing Center volunteer Gigi Lambert.

Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard presented his last Spirit of Portland award to Gigi Lambert, with the “PTA Clothing Center” located at the back of the now shuttered Marshall High School in the Lents Neighborhood.

“Gigi has been an outstanding volunteer at the PTA Clothing Center for over 16 years,” Leonard said. “The Center has been providing gently-worn and new suitable clothing for low-income students in Portland Public Schools since 1964. Each year, Gigi has volunteered over 250 hours at the PTA Clothing Center, in addition to other projects to help the needs of others at Lincoln High School, Multnomah County Libraries, and the Senior Food Bank.

“Gigi has demonstrated responsiveness and creativity in getting the center ready for low-income students to receive clothing in September,” Leonard continued. “Each summer for the past five years, Gigi has expertly coordinated volunteer efforts and has made improvements to the program by creating a space that is welcome to more than 1,900 students who receive clothing each year.

“Through her collaboration and community outreach, the PTA Clothing Center has seen an increase in new and repeat volunteers from Somali, Russian, and Hispanic families. Additionally, Gigi outreaches to other organizations, such as churches and non-profits, to receive the donations the program cannot use.”

Lambert accepts her award with humility and grace, and thanking all of those who volunteer at – and donate to – the Clothing Center.

Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman is handed the next award by Portland Office of Neighborhood Involvement Administrative Coordinator Jennifer Tam, who helps the ceremony run smoothly.

Linda Nguyen – Community Harmony Award

Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman presents a 2012 Spirit of Portland Community Harmony Award to Linda Nguyen, who works with the Asian Family Center on NE Sandy Boulevard in Cully.

After Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman presented accolades to his selections, Oregon College of Oriental Medicine and Miriam Green with Oregon DHS, Child Welfare Program Manager, he presented the second 2012 Spirit of Portland Community Harmony Award to Linda Nguyen.

“Linda is the energy assistance program coordinator at the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization office at the Asian Family Center,” Saltzman began. “She efficiently runs this very important community resource single-handedly, from running the administrative portion of the program, to scheduling her own appointments, to personally seeing every single family or client that seeks help with energy assistance.”

Through various programs, Nguyen helps people get their power turned back on by being “incredibly dedicated to her work, sometimes staying until 9:00 p.m. or later for clients who can’t make it during regular business hours.”

“The communities that Linda specifically outreaches to with her program are our most vulnerable communities – low-income families, senior and disabled communities, recent immigrants and refugees, East Portlanders, and all overlaps in between. Linda’s program helps to cover the gaps that mainstream social services in Portland may have missed,” Saltzman concluded.

Linda Nguyen says she’s thankful to speak for those who sometimes don’t have a voice in the community.

After the applause subsided, Nguyen responded, “Thank you for this award so much.  I would really like to dedicate this award to my clients, who cannot speak for themselves.”

For the complete list of 2012 Spirit of Portland award winners, see the City’s official webpage: CLICK HERE.

© 2012 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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