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An organization many have never heard of has just celebrated its 50th Anniversary in Southeast

DAVID F. ASHTON - Cutting the cake to celebrate Southeast Uplifts 50th anniversary was their Small Grants Program Manager, Muz Afzal. Although many Inner Southeast Portland neighbors have lately been expressing concern about the future of Portland's neighborhood associations and coalitions, there was festive mood at the Southeast Uplift neighborhood coalition office on S.E. Main Street on Thursay afternoon, August 23, where its 50th anniversary celebration was underway. All Portland's 95 neighborhood associations are assisted and supported by these nonprofit city-funded "coalitions", of which Southeast Uplift is just one.

"We're celebrating our organization's past, as well as looking forward to its future," remarked the coalition's Executive Director Molly Mayo with a smile. "It is so inspiring to work with the many people volunteering in the twenty Southeast neighborhoods we serve; making valiant attempts to network community groups together!"

During the coming years, Mayo reflected, "I look forward to seeing neighborhoods improving a 'sense of community', and working together for community events, emergency preparedness, and community initiatives – coming together even more, as neighbors, than they have in the past."

Musicians were on hand to enliven the party; a chef at the barbecue cooked for guests; and volunteers from many of the neighborhoods served by Southeast Uplift met and networked.

"Southeast Uplift is important to our neighborhood, because it provides a lot of resources, and is the central place for all Southeast neighborhood associations to get information and resources. We're thankful for the consistency and clarity they provide our board," assured current Woodstock Neighborhood Association Chair Sage Jensen.

Although Chloe Eudaly, the current Portland City Commissioner in charge of the "Office of Community & Civic Life" – until a recent City Council "emergency" name change, known as the "Office of Neighborhood Involvement", the Bureau that oversees Southeast Uplift – was notably absent, other city officials came to celebrate.

The Bureau's former Commissioner, Amanda Fritz, stopped by to lend her good wishes, and spoke pointedly about the value she sees in neighborhood associations.

"As they celebrate their 50th anniversary, I think it's wonderful, and also amazing, that some of the volunteers who started it are still active and are with us today," Fritz observed. "Neighborhoods are place-based; there is a substantial need for a place-based system. "We want people of all different backgrounds, cultures, ages, and races to be living together in our neighborhoods – getting to know each other, and looking after each other."

About providing financial and logistical to coalitions and neighborhood associations, Fritz stated, "I think this is essential, absolutely essential. If we don't create neighborhoods where people know the people who live around us, we risk losing what we've have had for so long: The feeling of many villages together, instead of being a massive city.

"I want places and structures for neighborhoods to organize together, to advocate for what they want – not for what the city or other governmental bodies want, but for what they see is best for their neighborhood!"

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