Connecting community with resources
This year's Community Connection Day organizer, Ewart Brown, was encouraged by the community's receptivity and turnout.
Held on Saturday, Aug. 21, in Woodburn, this was the first year the event included a Kids Fest, and the first year that Community Connection Day was held at Legion Park. Previously, the event had been staged at Safeway and Centennial Park.
Brown estimated that more than 2,000 people passed through the grounds.
"I would say that it went exceptionally well," Brown enthused. "It was a good thing that happened here, made even better with the kids (feature).
"Obviously, people have felt caged up for a long time over the past year, and they come here and are able to interact. And it was a substantive interaction. People were able to come away from here with something to remember."
Woodburn Pediatric Clinic sponsored the Kids Fest portion of the event through a federal grant. City of Woodburn and the Woodburn Downtown Association also had a strong involvement in facilitating the event.
City of Woodburn spokesman Tommy Moore said that Community Connection Day enables families to learn about available services by connecting them with local resources. Entities represented at the park ranged from area public safety agencies to social services to AWARE Food Bank.
"Combining these two efforts will offer a fun time for participants to meet our fire department personnel, police officers with their units, paramedics with their ambulance, and many other local service providers while sharing local resources available in our community," Moore noted.
Woodburn Parks and Recreation Director Jesse Cuomo and Woodburn Pediatric Clinic Practice Administrator Deb Bartel were among the other organizers. Bartel said the Kids Fest was able to distribute in the neighborhood of 1,200 backpacks with age-specific supplies.
"We wanted to look at how best to help the kids, and we know a lot of kids coming into the school year are struggling to get school supplies," Bartel said. "We learned a lot (with the Kid Fest), and we will know better what to do next time."
In addition to receiving backpacks, Brown stressed that kids received a memory — they will remember the experience and where they were when they received that backpack. He was particularly moved by one simple gesture during the event.
"A group of kids came in with their church group, and I was explaining how when we merge (familiarity), we can change the world; people connecting with people," Brown explained. "You come here and you can meet the policeman and the (public safety crews).
"At that moment, a little kid separated from the group and went around to where a police officer was standing and hugged the police officer."
For Brown, that was something to remember.
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