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A major effort in a Southeast neighborhood has saved a youth program that Portland Parks had given up on

RITA A. LEONARD - Ben Tarne, Chairman of the nonprofit Friends of Brooklyn Park, has received a US Bank Parks Champion award for his efforts to retain - now community-funded - the former PP&R summer youth program there. The bag of cans is not the award - its part of his fund-raising! Over all twelve months, Ben Tarne – Chairman of the Friends of Brooklyn Park – has worked tirelessly to support the Brooklyn neighborhood's Summer Youth Program for Kids. From the Gala fundraising dinner some time ago, to a highly successful Bottle Drop program in April, and weekly bottle collections year 'round, Tarne has been dedicated to maintaining the summer kids' program in the park that PP&R no longer supports. It is largely through his efforts that it again has been running four days a week this summer, starting on June 21.

Tarne's efforts did not go unnoticed. He was nominated as one of 48 individuals from all over Portland recommended for the Portland Parks Foundation's "US Bank Parks Champion" award. The award recognizes an individual who provided outstanding volunteer service to a park, community center, natural area, or community garden.

The winners were announced at a virtual event held at the Portland Park Foundation's "Friends & Allies Summit" – and Tarne was one of only two recipients chosen. He told THE BEE, "PPF promises to make a grant of $1,500, on the recommendation of the honorees, to a community organization that aligns with PPF's vision of helping Portland communities create more equitable access to nature, play, health, and places of connection."

He described the process which led to the recognition: "Nominations were made through an online form – promoted through the Foundation's e-mailed newsletter – and were accepted in the spring." It is no surprise that he planned to choose the Friends of Brooklyn Park, and its Summer Youth Program, to receive that $1,500 grant.

Although Brooklyn's is one of the smaller parks in Inner Southeast, the summer program there, headed by former teacher Craig Montag for over 40 years, has proven to be a popular kid-pleaser – featuring crafts, games, music, ping pong, and of course (on the over 100-degree days) Brooklyn's famous water slide down the grassy hill.


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