Lents neighbors celebrate ‘National Night Out’

INCLUDES NEIGHBORLY VIDEO | Discover why this one might have been the only National Night Out celebration in the entire city – not just in outer East Portland – this year …

Checking-in guests to the Lents National Night Out party are volunteers Becky Walker and Tina Schiebelhut.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Even though hosting a National Night Out has been de-funded and discouraged by the City of Portland’s Office of Community & Civic Life – which has replaced with “Party On, Portland” – Lents neighbors elected to celebrate the original community-building event on the traditional day, August 2, at the expansive campus of New Hope Church. Without any city support, most in the Rose City who might have considered organizing a National Night Out party of their own were discouraged from doing so.

But, a group in Lents would not be dissuaded from hosting a National Night Out event!

Watch, as these Lents neighbors defy City Hall by holding a wholesome National Night Out party:

For decades, on the first Tuesday evening in August, National Night Out gatherings set out to enhance the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement and first-responders, while bringing back a true sense of community. It provides a great opportunity to bring police, firefighters, and neighbors together in positive circumstances.

Pausing for our photo are NNO organizers Denise Douglas, Cindy Lang, and Jo Jennings.

“It is in the true spirit of National Night Out that we’ve inviting neighbors in Lents to come and get together here this evening,” explained one of the event’s organizers, Denise Douglas – who is also one of the pastors New Hope Church.

“Those who come will enjoy some good food,” Douglas told East Portland News. “And, like always, families can meet some of our emergency first-responders that serve our neighborhood – both from the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) and Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R).”

PPB K9 Officer Rob Wullbrandt, K9 “Mac”, and Officer Trent Wiest meet and greet Lents neighbors during the 2022 traditional National Night Out celebration.

In all, volunteers prepared some five gallons of homemade chili, cooked 320 hot dogs, made three gallons of macaroni salad and another three gallons of coleslaw for the guests. Also, numerous watermelons were cut into slices and passed out for dessert.

Volunteer Helen Putman serves hot dogs – along with delicious spicy chili.

This young man, Soren, enjoys his hot dog with relish (and some catsup).

The PPB officers appeared to have a good time interacting with neighbors who shared their law enforcement safety concerns with them – and who also thanked them for their service.

And, a crew from PF&R Lents Fire Station 11 brought out the “brush rig” currently staffed as “Rescue 11” – because their Engine Company was out on a call.

Zeke Guenther, a member of Portland Lents NET, talks to neighbors about “emergency readiness”.

“What’s significant about National Night Out is that it helps our neighbors – of all origins and backgrounds – to interact with and get to know each other,” observed Douglas. “Research shows that when we get to know each other, and learn about the services that help in our area, then our neighborhood becomes safer and more livable.”

In this park-like setting, what was possibly Portland’s only National Night Out party this year provided a delightful evening for Lents neighbors.

“Also, it’s a great way to enjoy an evening together in the middle of the summer,” Douglas concluded.

© 2022 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™



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