East Portlanders win ‘Spirit’ awards

Here’s who was honored at this year’s ‘Spirit of Portland’ event, along with photos of the celebration …

Inside these doors, at the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO) in the Hazelwood neighborhood, the 2017 Spirit of Portland Awards event is taking place.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

The Mayor and City of Portland Commissioners gathered to recognize and celebrate the 33rd Annual Spirit of Portland Awards winners, on the evening of November 14 at the IRCO Sokhom Tausch Community Center.

East Portland Neighborhood Office Director Victor Salinas selects his dinner from supper buffet, catered by La Merced Authentic Mexican Food.

Before the ceremony, as awardees and attendees filed into the room, many guests took advantage of the buffet supper and the beverages provided for them. It was also an opportunity for networking, and friendly conversation.

-3 The Master of Ceremony, Office of Neighborhood Involvement Director Suk Rhee, welcomes those attending – as Portland City Commissioners Dan Salzman, Chloe Eudaly, Nick Fish, Amanda Fritz and Mayor Ted Wheeler look on.

“This annual awards ceremony formally recognizes and honors some of Portland’s most active and engaged community members, for their outstanding contributions and hard work in the arts and culture, environmental, equity, and social justice issues,” said Portland City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly.

“This year, also we are recognizing those ‘Standing Up for Love against Hate’,” Eudaly added.

-4 Providing enthusiastic “drum salutes” during the program are members of the Drumming by All Nations NARA Drum Circle.


Equity in Practice Partnership of the Year
EPNO Mobile Playgrounds Team

One of the first awards was presented by Commissioner Amanda Fritz, as she honored the “EPNO Mobile Playgrounds Teamwith theEquity in Practice Partnership Award.”

Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz (standing far right) commends members of the “EPNO Mobile Playgrounds Team”.

Fritz commended,

“For 100 years the city of Portland delivered a summer program mostly to suburban schoolyards and parks. Mobile Playgrounds seasonal staff returned year after year. The demographics of the family served in the staff hired remain substantially homogeneous.

“Then, in the summer 2011 a vigorous mix of New Portland are mutual assistance associations, settled Portland are neighborhood associations, community-based agencies, and to City bureaus, began partnering to site where to deliver mobile playgrounds, and who to hire to lead the summer activities on the agreement that African and African American kids, Latino, Bhutanese, and Russian-speaking kids; would all benefit from looking up to youth activity leaders who look like their families do.

“Blending the social capital of our community organizations and the institutional assets of our City bureaus, resulted in sending MPG vans since 2002 to some of Portland’s most underserved neighborhoods,” Fritz continued. “Moreover, MPG, and authentic partnership modeling a process that produced a workforce representing the robust ethno-cultural differences and a meeting our East Portland neighborhoods, and it is and exemplary expression of the creativity and kindness at the core of the Spirit of Portland, since summer 2017 the program was named ‘Free Lunch and Play’.”

Providing a cultural entertainment interlude during program is “Colectivo de Son Jrocho de Portland”.


Young Leaders in Portland Award
Surya Joshi and Lisha Shrestha

Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish stands with “Young Leaders in Portland Award” recipients Lisha Shrestha and Surya Joshi, after presenting them with their award.

The “Young Leaders in Portland Award” was presented to Surya Joshi, the East Portland Neighborhood Office Interim Grants and Community Engagement Coordinator, and Lisha Shrestha by Commissioner Nick Fish.

Commissioner Fish read the commendation:

“Portland is lucky to have some strong immigrant advocate and activist families and power couples such as Surya Joshi and Lisha Shrestha, who joined us from Nepal and are now working together to create equity and opportunity across communities in Portland. They have served their community through jobs at IRCO but passionate work for causes is not a 40 hour a week job but a 60 to 80 hour a week devotion.

“This couple bridges communities and addresses intersections of cultural identities,” Fish said. “Both worked on ASL classes for Deaf Bhutanese refugees, and Lisha worked at Elders in Action to build bridges so diverse elder’s needs would become part of that organization’s work. And congrats to him on entry into a PhD program it will serve PDX well,” he added.

Both Joshi and Shrestha expressed gratitude for the recognition, and vowed to keep up their efforts.

Jennifer Young, seen here moderating the Town Hall on Homeless Issues in April, receives a Spirit of Portland award for her efforts.

Although the title and nature of the award was not disclosed by the organizers, Commissioner Dan Saltzman presented a Spirit of Portland award to Jennifer Young, commending her for her efforts with the Lents Neighborhood Association Livability Committee for creating a well-attended Town Hall on Homeless Issues and doing so with “compassion, skill and focus, to affect positive change for everyone who calls Lents home,”

© 2017 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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