Numerous outer East Portlanders recognized at annual ‘Spirit of Portland Awards’ ceremony

See what happened at the East Portland Community Center – when folks filled their gym to witness an official Portland City Council meeting there …

These 2011 Spirit of Portland Awards stand ready to be given to awardees at this year’s ceremony, held at the East Portland Community Center.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Parking was scarce along SE 106th Avenue, as folks from all across Portland streamed into the East Portland Community Center to participate in the annual Spirit of Portland Awards ceremony the evening of October 27.

“I am especially pleased that this Portland City Council ceremony is taking place here, at the East Portland Community Center – continuing our new tradition of holding the event in different areas of our great city,” said Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, serving as acting mayor at that time, and the Commissioner in charge of the Office of Neighborhood Involvement (ONI) that produces the event. “Holding the awards ceremony in the evening makes attendance more convenient for working families.”

Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz welcomes the hundreds attending the Spirit of Portland Awards to the ceremony.

Asked why these awards are important, Fritz told East Portland News, “We need to celebrate the many good things that happen in our community every day. While we so often hear about the bad things, there’s much more that is ‘going right’ in our city every day.”

Pausing to think for a moment, Fritz smiled and added, “These awards provide an example of people who make a positive difference, and who make Portland a better place in which to live and work.”

Nominees were evaluated in each of the following five areas:

  1. Participation in outstanding projects;
  2. Enrichment of our community and neighborhoods;
  3. Providing a special service to the community;
  4. Demonstration of responsiveness, creativity and civic values; and,
  5. Raising cross-cultural awareness.


Commission Fritz points out that with four Portland City Commissioners present, the ceremony is, indeed, an official meeting of the Portland City Council.

During the program, a nearly-two-hour meeting, two dozen individuals and organizations were commended; this article focuses on East Portlanders.

  • For the complete list of 2011 Spirit of Portland awardees, see the list at the end of this article.

The accolades that follow were read by the presenters at the event.

Commissioner’s Award
Portland Police Bureau Family Services Division

Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman presents awards to members of the Portland Police Bureau Family Services Division.

“The Portland Police Bureau Family Services Division’s mission is to protect the city’s most vulnerable populations through the Child Abuse Team, Domestic Violence Reduction Unit and Vulnerable Adult Unit, as well as early prevention programs including WomenStrength and GirlStrength. Day in and day out, these officers, detectives, and victim advocates perform the toughest type of police work.

Beyond investigating the crime, the Family Services Division understands the importance of a community-based continuum of care. They go the extra mile to find additional resources, whether through collaborating with another law enforcement agency or through a social service program. Often working on personal time, the Family Service Division truly exemplifies the Portland Police ideals of compassion, service, and excellence.”

Commissioner’s Award
Tom Lewis

Centennial Community Association’s President, Tom Lewis, accepts an award presented by Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish.

“East Portland is home to many outstanding community advocates like Tom Lewis. He is passionate to improve Parklane Park, a 25-acre site that the City purchased in 1993. He recently helped Portland Parks & Recreation complete a master plan, and is looking forward – championing funding to develop the park in a future bond measure. Currently, the City’s E205 initiative is providing small investments with big impacts to over a dozen sites in East Portland. Thanks to Tom’s advocacy, Parklane is the first project, and Tom joined others to cut the ribbon on improvements in late August – including new playground equipment, drinking fountains, and benches.

“A tireless community volunteer, Tom is active on the East Portland Action Plan, and serves as EPAP’s representation to ONI’s Budget Advisory Committee. He is Chair of the Centennial Community Association, President of the Rockwood People’s Utility District Board, the East Portland Graffiti Cleanup Program, and the East Portland Neighborhood Small Grants Committee. He also serves on Parks’ Powell Butte Advisory Committee, and finds spare time to coach softball. Tom’s commitment to improving his community inspires enthusiasm in others, benefiting all of us.”

After the ceremony, Tom Lewis is congratulated by previous Spirit of Portland winner Mark White, President of neighboring Powellhurst-Gilbert Neighborhood Association.

Accepting the award, Lewis said, “It is not that I accept this award alone. I have lots of help. From those at the Office of Neighborhood Involvement and East Portland Neighborhood Office that supports our 13 East Portland neighborhoods, to all of our neighborhood volunteers, I applaud your efforts and support. I give special thanks to our City Commissioners who come to outer East Portland for their advocacy, and to recognize the great works that happen here.

“I am humbled, and want to accept the award on behalf of the many hands who helped make this work easier. Thank you very much.”

Neighborhood Association
Lents Neighborhood Association

Lents Neighborhood Association Chair Nick Christensen accepts the Spirit of Portland Award from Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz.

“Lents Neighborhood Association represents a thriving and diverse community in Southeast Portland. The association works to improve the business climate in the neighborhood, and to enrich its cultural traditions among established and newcomer communities.

“Centered around the intersection of Foster Road and 92nd Avenue, Lents is home to more than 20,000 people who enjoy the community’s parks, town center, and natural areas. With the Springwater Corridor, the new MAX Green Line, Foster Road, and Interstate 205, Lents is the crossroads of the eastside.”

The Lents Neighborhood Association’s board accepts the accolades of the audience after being presented their Spirit of Portland Award.

“Here are a few highlights of their committed volunteers. Jalene Littlejohn is a coordinator for the Foster Green EcoDistrict. She also organized the Lents Ramona Street Fair, an annual celebration of our community in the heart of our business district.

“Rebecca Stavenjord spent much of 2010-11 changing the staid ‘Founder’s Day’ event from a celebration of Lents’ 19th century pioneers to a celebration of all its pioneers, particularly newcomers and immigrants who have called the neighborhood home in the last 20 years. Her work resulted in a spectacular event, attended by thousands.

“Until this past July, Cora Lee Potter was the Chair of the Lents urban renewal advisory committee. One of her hallmark events was ‘Light Up Lents’, a way to liven up the Lents Town Center by putting Holiday displays in vacant storefronts.

“There are numerous others we don’t have time to recognize tonight, but we do appreciate their energy and commitment to the Lents community.”

Nick Christensen says he’s proud to be associated with the volunteers who strive to improve the Lents Neighborhood.

After the awards, Nick Christensen told East Portland News he’s glad Lents Neighborhood Association volunteers were recognized.

“These people work so very hard to help Lents continue to improve its status as a thriving community – with cultural affairs, improving business districts, improving livability. People take time out of their lives, and take their personal time after working jobs and going to school, to make the Lents neighborhood a better community. The recognition of their work is spectacular tonight – and, so very much well-deserved.”

Small Business
Lents Commons Coffeehouse

Ryan Cloutier of Lents Commons Coffeehouse listens, as Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish tells why they’ve won the Small Business Spirit of Portland Award.

“Since its arrival less than two years ago, Lents Commons Coffeehouse has become the place where the ‘townies’ of Lents gather – young families, local musicians, workers, retirees, business folk, riders jumping off Line 14, long-time residents, newcomers, and those looking for a coffee oasis.

“Ryan Cloutier and Alex Amen exhibit a wealth of community spirit and scrappiness that foster an environment that is welcoming and allows the diverse population to mix, interact, and get to know one another, in a place that truly feels like a commons.

“The Commons has developed into a venue that serves its community by hosting community events, meetings, and open houses. It is a place for field trips, open-mic nights, and robust displays of civic participation by standing-room only crowds. Ryan and Alex participated in the Lents Park Master Plan success by hosting open-house display boards for two weeks and collecting survey responses from the community, drawing a broader and more diverse range of responses.

On behalf of Alex Amen and their staff, Ryan Cloutier Lents Commons Coffeehouse accepts the award from Commissioner Fish.

“They also serve as National Guard members, and helped the Ramona Street Fair with its music needs by calling in the Guard to provide an affordable stage and sound equipment.”

After the ceremony, Ryan Cloutier commented, “This recognition is validation of our idea, to create a community space that folks would use to come to meet and create art and music.”

Business Association
82nd Avenue of Roses Business Association

The board of the 82nd Avenue of Roses Business Association accepts their Business Association Spirit of Portland Award from Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish.

The 82nd Avenue of Roses Business Association began in the 1970s out of frustration with prostitution seemingly everywhere on 82nd Avenue in the East Portland area. Business owners joined with the City to address this concern, creating the business association bearing the avenue’s name.

“The effort yielded the planting of beautiful trees between Powell and Division, pole banners identifying the district, and new malls and stores assisting the Avenue to attract other new businesses to serve the long-time residents and newly-settled neighbors who hail from around the globe.”

82nd Ave. of Roses Business Association’s President, Hai Nguyen of  Columbia Medical Clinic , accepts the award on behalf of the membership.

“To assist this Cinderella transformation, the City Council agreed to unofficially add ‘of Roses’ to the Avenue’s name. The Association received grants to install over 120 sign caps from the airport to Clackamas County, assisted businesses to plant rose gardens, and – most significantly – began an annual Rose Festival-sanctioned community parade in 2007 that has increased in the number of participants, sponsors, and spectators, every year.

“The Association welcomes everyone to its 6th annual parade on April 28 next year.”

Nancy Chapin, with TSG, is commended for her efforts to build the 82nd Avenue of Roses Business Association by Hai Nguyen.

The president of the business association, Hai Nguyen, accepted the award, saying, “First and foremost, we thank ONI and the City Commissioners for recognizing our organization. We hope to continue to contribute to the city, by fostering a wonderful business environment so that everybody can prosper.

82nd Ave. of Roses Business Assn. board member Gary Sargent of Sargent’s Motorsports says he’s committed supporting neighborhood and local business activities since the 1970s. “And, we sell vehicles that get 100 mpg at SE 102nd and Foster Road!

Emerging Community Leader
Erika Silver

Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz presents Erika Silver, with Human Solutions, with the 2011 Emerging Community Leader Spirit of Portland Award.

“Erika Silver’s influence as an active Portland community organizer can be seen in new services and opportunities available to homeless and low-income families. She is an emerging leader in the community, as well as at Human Solutions, where she is co-managing the development of a new project. The Rockwood Building will contain 47 affordable apartments with 15 designated for homeless families, and a Multi Service Center to gather six social services agencies to provide a broad spectrum of critical services.

“Erika previously was the Executive Director of Bradley-Angle House, where she expanded its services for survivors of domestic violence, and Director of Operations for the YWCA of Greater Portland. With the YWCA, she orchestrated renovation of the historic downtown building to open it to more community groups and individuals.

“Through her work, Erika has been a voice for those holding little or no power in our society. She advocates treating people with dignity and respect and encouraging people of color to participate at all levels in every organization. Erika’s work promotes cross-cultural awareness, and diversity within organizations and its leadership.”

East Portland News presents the Unsung Hero Award to Patrick Philpott, Spirit of Portland Coordinator at Office of Neighborhood Involvement. He not only organized the awards process and produced the program – he also helps to stack the chairs after it’s over!

In closing Commissioner Amanda Fritz said, “It only takes one individual, filled with love and a desire to help others, to make a difference.  When we join together it makes even more of a difference. Thank you all for coming tonight.”

2011 Spirit of Portland Awards

From 90 nominations submitted by the community, a selection committee has selected the 2011 Spirit of Portland awards.

Awards were determined by a selection committee of representatives from the Mayor’s and City Commissioners’ offices, the Office of Neighborhood Involvement, the Neighborhood District Coalition offices, Business Associations, diverse non-profit community organizations and past award winners. In addition, the Mayor and each commissioner have recognized individual and organizational leaders.

The Mayor’s Award

Presented by Mayor Sam Adams delegate, Antoinette Edwards Director of Public Safety & Peacekeeping to 11:45 Mobilizing the Church for Community Action Committee; Rev. Marcus Pollard, Dr. W.G. Hardy, Dr. Mark Strong, Pastor George Merriweather, Bishop Steven Holt, Rev. C.T. Wells

Commissioner Amanda Fritz:

  • Individual:          Gil Frey
  • Individual:          Senator Bob Boyer

Commissioner Nick Fish:

  • Individual:          Tom Lewis
  • Organization:     Amber Baker and the Village Market Team

Commissioner Randy Leonard:

  • Individual:          Greg Madden
  • Organization:     Timbers Army

Commissioner Dan Saltzman:

  • Individual:          Michael Schrunk
  • Organization:     Portland Police Bureau – Family Services Division

Award winners selected by committee:

  • Business Association: 82nd Ave. Business Association
  • City Employee of the Year: Kent Powloski
  • Community Harmony: Opal Strong
  • Emergency Preparedness: Ed Rentz and Doug McCaouley
  • Emerging Community Leader: Erika Silver
  • Humanitarian: David Utzinger
  • Independent Spirit: Dress for Success
  • Large Business: The Standard
  • Neighborhood Association: Lents Neighborhood Association
  • Non-Profit Organization: Incight – Scott Hatley and Vail Horton
  • Outstanding Partnership: Sgt. Willie Halliburton
  • Public Involvement: Jackeline Luna
  • Sandy Diedrich Environmental Stewardship: Terri Preeg Riggsby
  • Small Business: Lents Common Coffeehouse (Ryan Cloutier & Alex Amen) and St. Johns Booksellers (Nena Rawdah)
  • Youth Volunteer: Oregon Dreamers

© 2011 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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