Unique events celebrate National Night Out

PART 2 – Find out what mad this year’s celebrations unique for the Centennial Community Group, and at the Rosewood Initiative this year …

Neighbors from both Portland and Gresham meet at the Centennial National Night Out party in outer East Portland.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Last week, in Part 1 of this story, readers saw how the Powellhurst-Gilbert, Parkrose, and Mill Park neighborhoods celebrated National Night Out Against Crime (NNO) in 2016. [To read that story, CLICK HERE]

Later in the week, on the evening August 4, the celebrations created by two organizations were unique – because of their partnerships.

Centennial Community Association
Alder Elementary School

Powellhurst-Gilbert resident Thomas Barnes, one of the East Portland Rovers, helps out by grinding snow cones at the Centennial Community Association and Rockwood neighborhood’s National Night Out party.

“For going-on six years we had our NNO at Parklane Park,” reflected Centennial Community Association Chair Tom Lewis. “This year, we decided to partner with the Rockwood neighborhood.”

Combining celebrations helps neighbors on both sides of the city border get to know one another, believes Centennial Chair Tom Lewis.

“But, because we can’t have Portland Parks & Recreation Movies in the Park in Gresham, we’re holding it here at the school, located on SE 174th Avenue – about as far east as one can go and still be in the City of Portland,” Lewis said.

The idea was to help “take down the artificial wall” of city jurisdiction boundaries – to bring neighbors who live, work, and go to school together, to work together, he said.

Friends of Powell Butte Nature Park volunteers Carol Pernar, Dave Specht and Carol Specht talk about their work to people visiting this party.

Meeting families at the Centennial NNO are Gresham Fire & Emergency Services firefighters Justin King and Bo Thran, on duty at Station 31, a facility shared with Portland Fire & Rescue.

“To me, the best thing is that it’s a gathering of neighbors,” Lewis opined.

“We have tables for organizations whose leaders can bring information of local interest to the community, without expense,” Lewis added. “And, the folks who come here get an evening of free music and movie entertainment, including free snow cones and popcorn.”

Echoes of Yasgurs”, formerly known as the “River City Band”, musically entertains at this NNO party with classic rock music.

NNO events like theirs, Lewis pointed out, help neighbors get to know one another. “The benefit to this is that this ‘knowing’ helps take down all the barriers we sometimes feel.”

Rosewood Neighbors Night Out
Rosewood Initiative Community Center

More than 1,000 neighbors gather for the Neighbors Night Out Rosewood Initiative Barbecue.

The same evening, twelve blocks to the west, the Rosewood Initiative was again hosting their own community event.

“This is our third annual ‘Neighbors Night Out Rosewood Initiative Barbecue’,” said organizer Marge McDevitt, of St. Joseph’s the Worker Catholic Church.

Making this celebration unique, hosted by Rosewood, is that it was organized and put on by Christian faith groups in the area.

Rosewood Barbecue organizer Marge McDevitt spends a moment with Rosewood Initiative Executive Director Jenny Glass.

“We have the As-Is Church and Foursquare Church, doing all the kids’ games and activities; the As Is Church also does all the setup and the takedown,” McDevitt remarked.

“The Parklane Christian Church is serving all of the meals, while the Knights of Columbus is cooking the hot dogs and hamburgers, and making the shaved ice treats,” McDevitt told East Portland News.

This band, comprised of musicians from several of the participating church’s praise teams, entertains at the barbecue.

Asked why faith organizations of differing denominations unite to produce this event, McDevitt replied, “We’re doing this to bring the community together.

“There isn’t any preaching here, but each of us has a little booth, among the 40 other organizations here that are telling of the resources they have to offer the community – and we are among them,” McDevitt explained.”

St. Joseph’s the Worker Catholic Church Knights of Columbus volunteer Troy Crouch grills some of the hundreds of hamburgers served at the party.

Because of the new family homeless shelter across the street, McDevitt said they’d increased their food quantity this year. “We’re serving 800 meals – that’s 500 hamburgers and 300 hot dogs.

“But, our costs have been very minimal, because so much of the food has been all donated, including the meat, bun, salads, ice cream – even our condiments were donated,” McDevitt said.

Guests at the Rosewood NNO party enjoy food, music, and fun.

The effort is worth it, McDevitt said. “Many who live here have been displaced, and now live in low income housing, so they no longer feel like they’re part of a neighborhood. The idea is to help make the community stronger, by bringing people together.”

© 2016 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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