Lents Neighborhood Association hosts dinner meeting

Here’s a good way to get more participation in a neighborhood association! Discover how a special meeting, at the New Copper Penny, came about …

New Copper Penny owner Saki Tzantarmas, is slicing up roast beef for guests at the Lents Neighborhood Association dinner.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The City of Portland has challenged all neighborhood associations to increase ethnic and socioeconomic diversity at their meetings.

With the help of New Copper Penny (NCP) owner Saki Tzantarmas, and his son John, the Lents Neighborhood Association has found a way to do it. For the second time this year, the Lents landmark restaurant and lounge put on a free “Community Dinner” – the latest, on December 19.

The NCP’s Pantheon Ballroom was decorated as a winter wonderland for the “Lents Dinner” event.

Everything about Lents is good
The New Copper Penny’s Pantheon Ballroom, where SE Woodstock Boulevard and Foster Road split at SE 92nd Avenue, was colorfully decorated for the Holiday season – as more than a hundred residents filed in.

To be as inclusive as possible, the neighborhood association’s invitations were printed in four languages: English, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese. A grant from the City of Portland’s Office of Neighborhood Involvement (ONI) paid for printing and distributing the invitations, and for incidental costs. Longtime Lents community supporters the Tzantarmas family – owners of the New Copper Penny – provided the room and the banquet.

NCP manager John Tzantarmas and Judy Welch, past chair of the neighborhood association, enjoy the evening.

“Saki always does a nice dinner, and really supports our neighborhood,” said Judy Welch, past Chair of the Lents Neighborhood Association. “I saw many new people at the dinner; perhaps they’ll start coming to the association meetings. We want – and need – to include all people, as we work to improve our area.”

As neighbors started filing in, John Tzantarmas said he and his father were proud to be able to help their community. “Today is a happy day for us; we’re celebrating together as a neighborhood. I’m glad that everyone is having a good time. Everything is good about Lents. It is growing and getting better.”

Dewey Akers, Chair of Lents Neighborhood Association, addresses the guests at their dinner event

Nourishing the neighborhood
“It is important that the neighborhood association is doing this,” Dewey Akers, Chair of Lents Neighborhood Association, told us: “Because we are sincerely trying to reach out and include all of our neighbors. It isn’t easy on a limited budget. This event gives us an opportunity to reach out to people who don’t traditionally participate in the neighborhood activities. We want to include everyone, and seek out their ideas.”

Akers thanked the Tzantarmas’ for catering the dinner – a three-course meal featuring salads, spaghetti & meatballs, and freshly sliced roast beef.

Lents resident, and associate delegate to East Portland Neighbors, Inc., Raymond Hites, enjoys the evening with his parents, Elena and John Hites.

During his brief presentation, Akers brought guests up to date on topics ranging from actions in the Lents Urban Renewal District, the new soon-to-open corporate office for Assurety Northwest, and the impact which the I-205 MAX line will have on the area.

The dinner must have been good – many guests went back for second helpings!

Providing holiday-themed entertainment were a half-dozen kids from the Waddles Boys & Girls Club, who sang Christmas carols.

In addition to the dinner (and second servings), guests were also treated to door prizes donated by TriMet, Pacific Seafood, and Portland Development Commission – as well as www.eastPDXnews‘ own handmade chocolate!

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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