55 Charles com­mu­ni­ties take part in Na­tional Night Out

Event brings com­mu­nity, po­lice to­gether

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­news.com By PAUL LAGASSE pla­gasse@somd­news.com By JESSI STICKEL Spe­cial to the Mary­land In­de­pen­dent

Across Charles County, 55 com­mu­ni­ties came to­gether with law en­force­ment to cel­e­brate food, fun and fel­low­ship as part of Na­tional Night Out

“Na­tional Night Out is an op­por­tu­nity for com­mu­nity and law en­force­ment to show that they are work­ing shoul­der to shoul­der, that they are one. The com­mu­nity needs law en­force­ment and law en­force­ment needs com­mu­ni­ties to be suc­cess­ful,” said Charles County Sher­iff

Troy Berry (D).

Na­tional Night Out is held an­nu­ally on the first Tues­day in Au­gust. It be­gan in 1984 with neigh­bors turn­ing on their porch lights and sit­ting in front of their homes, and has since grown into a na­tion­wide cel­e­bra­tion with com­mu­nity mem­bers and law en­force­ment in 16,000 com­mu­ni­ties across the coun­try, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Night Out website.

The Charles County Sher­iff’s Of­fice be­gan par­tic­i­pa­tion in 1991 with four com­mu­nity events, said Lt. Charles Baker, com­man­der of com­mu­nity re­la­tions for the sher­iff’s of­fice.

Berry said Na­tional Night Out forms an im­por­tant com­po­nent of com­mu­nity polic­ing.

“The Charles County Sher­iff’s Of­fice wants to em­power com­mu­ni­ties to play a ma­jor role in their own safety and se­cu­rity,” Berry said. “We’re not ask­ing them to be law en­force­ment of­fi­cers, all we’re ask­ing is to do this: If you see some­thing un­usual in your com­mu­nity, say some­thing.”

In Charles County, 55 com­mu­ni­ties reg­is­tered with law en­force­ment to par­tic­i­pate in Na­tional Night Out ac­tiv­i­ties, which Berry said is a phe­nom­e­nal de­gree of par­tic­i­pa­tion in a county the size of Charles.

Mary­land Lt. Gov. Boyd Ruther­ford (R) came to Charles to visit sev­eral of the com­mu­ni­ties tak­ing part in Na­tional Night Out.

“It’s an op­por­tu­nity for law en­force­ment and the com­mu­nity to come to­gether in a very pos­i­tive way, to cel­e­brate both the com­mu­nity and what law en­force­ment does, and what the first re­spon­ders are able to do to sup­port the com­mu­nity,” Ruther­ford said.

Cathy Gil­bert, co-chair of the Na­tional Night Out event in the Her­itage neigh­bor­hood in White Plains, said Na­tional Night Out is hugely im­por­tant to her com­mu­nity of more than 500 res­i­dents.

“It’s in­cred­i­bly im­por­tant, be­cause we’re a 55-and-over com­mu­nity, and that means we have to watch out for each other,” Gil­bert said.

Gil­bert said this was Her­itage’s 10th Na­tional Night Out cel­e­bra­tion.

Clifton Shields, a Her­itage res­i­dent, said he came out to show his sup­port.

“This is my com­mu­nity, and I want to sup­port it, and that’s what this is about,” Shields said. “There’s so much crime and vi­o­lence go­ing on in the sur­round­ing area and even down here, so we need to come to­gether.”

In the Hunt­ing­ton neigh­bor­hood in Wal­dorf, there was food, mu­sic, danc­ing and moon bounces. Ian Work­man, trea­surer for the neigh­bor­hood’s Na­tional Night Out com­mit­tee, said the com­mu­nity has par­tic­i­pated in Na­tional Night Out con­sec­u­tively since 1994. Work­man said at least 700 peo­ple at­tended the event.

“Na­tional Night Out is a great night, that’s meant to bring aware­ness to crime all across the coun­try,” Work­man said. “Every­one comes out and gets to know their neigh­bors, and help stop crime.”

“It’s a great feel­ing for us to be able to help the com­mu­nity, and we en­joy meet­ing the peo­ple,” Dawn Ma­ree Du­gan, as­sis­tant chief of the Iron­sides Res­cue Squad in Nan­je­moy, said at the Nan­je­moy Com­mu­nity Center Na­tional Night Out.

The Nane­j­moy Vol­un­teer Fire Depart­ment came out to teach chil­dren and adults about fire safety. They put on a demon­stra­tion of a stim­u­lated fire, much like a typ­i­cal kitchen fire, for chil­dren to put out us­ing fire ex­tin­guish­ers.

“This demon­stra­tion is to teach chil­dren how to prop­erly use a fire ex­tin­guisher; if we can in­tro­duce it to the kids now, they won’t be as scared of it later on,” Den­nis Smith, Nan­je­moy vol­un­teer fire­fighter and Pen­tagon fire mar­shall, said.

“Who knows, half of th­ese kids could be fire­men when they get older.”

The Iron­sides Res­cue Squad was also at the com­mu­nity center, giv­ing out candy and prizes to chil­dren as well as look­ing for new volunteers to join the squad.

Sev­eral other or­ga­ni­za­tions came out to sup­port and share knowl­edge of the Nan­je­moy com­mu­nity.

Help For Pets, a non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion, of­fered the Nan­je­moy com­mu­nity small bags of pet food and treats for pets in need.

“We want the com­mu­nity to know that if they are hav­ing a hard time car­ing for their pets, we’re here to help,” Pat Par­rish, pres­i­dent of Help For Pets, said.

One of the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s ma­jor goals is to “keep pets out of the shel­ter and in homes, where they be­long,” Par­rish said.

The Western Charles County Com­mu­nity As­so­ci­a­tion do­nated bags of school sup­plies for all school-aged chil­dren. The sup­plies are to help prepare them for the up­com­ing school year.

The non­profit Be­yond the Class­room at­tended Nan­je­moy’s Na­tional Night Out, bear­ing free school sup­plies and other items for chil­dren in the com­mu­nity.

“[The goal here] is to make sure chil­dren are start­ing out the school year right,” Lisa Am­bers, founder and pres­i­dent of Be­yond the Class­room, said.

“A lot of th­ese kids don’t have ac­cess; the goal of Be­yond the Class­room is to give them ac­cess and ex­po­sure that they do not get in­side of the class­room.”

Am­bers’ non­profit of-

fers youth pro­grams and ex­pe­ri­ences such as work­shops and sport­ing events chil­dren are lim­ited to ex­pe­ri­enc­ing in the class­room.

“We want to make sure [the chil­dren in Nan­je­moy] are equipped to suc­ceed,” Am­bers said.

DJ John Bow­man set the mood for the fes­tiv­i­ties at La Plata Manor Apart­ments, a se­nior com­mu­nity east of the city center, spin­ning every­thing from clas­sic rock to disco as res­i­dents queued up for

hot dogs and chips in the din­ing hall.

Sharon Hardesty, com­mu­nity man­ager at La Plata Manor, said that she val­ued Na­tional Night Out as an op­por­tu­nity for res­i­dents to so­cial­ize. “Af­ter they eat, they will be up danc­ing and hav­ing a good time and meet­ing of­fi­cials from the town,” she said. “New res­i­dents like events like this too, be­cause it gives them a chance to meet every­one.”

James Wood, a res­i­dent for 16 years, said Na­tional Night Out is an op­por­tu­nity for peo­ple to be­come more aware of is­sues in their com­mu­nity. “It’s

im­por­tant to just talk to peo­ple and let them know what’s go­ing on and talk to the po­lice if need be,” he said.

Chick-fil-A, a lo­cal church and the sher­iff’s of­fice do­nated raf­fle gifts. A fire en­gine from the La Plata Vol­un­teer Fire Depart­ment also stopped by for res­i­dents to meet and talk with the fire­fight­ers.

A set­ting sun served as the back­drop for the cel­e­bra­tions in the La Plata neigh­bor­hood of King’s Grant, as neigh­bors chat­ted over grilled ham­burg­ers and hot dogs, cot­ton candy and pop­corn. Kids took turns play­ing in the bouncy cas­tle

and peek­ing in­side the three LPVFD fire en­gines parked nearby. Mem­bers of the Charles County Vol­un­teer Res­cue Squad were out in force, hand­ing out plas­tic fire hats and

wrist­bands.

“It’s a great op­por­tu­nity for us to show our ap­pre­ci­a­tion for every­thing pub­lic safety folks do for our com­mu­nity,” said Matt Trollinger, a mem­ber of the King’s Grant HOA’s safety com­mit­tee. “They work so hard, it’s nice to be able to take the time to give them some props.”

STAFF PHO­TOS BY JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU

Above, Mary­land’s Lt. Gov. Boyd Ruther­ford speaks with Cathy Joseph at the Her­itage com­mu­nity’s Na­tional Night Out cel­e­bra­tion in White Plains Tues­day evening. Below, chil­dren lined up for moon bounces at the Hunt­ing­ton neigh­bor­hood’s Na­tional Night Out cel­e­bra­tion Tues­day evening.

STAFF PHOTO BY JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU

DR Soul Line Dance of Mar­low Heights got the crowd mov­ing with dance steps at the Hunt­ing­ton com­mu­nity’s Na­tional Night Out event Tues­day evening.

PHOTO BY JESSI STICKEL

Lisa Am­bers, founder and pres­i­dent of Be­yond the Class­room, and Niki Tay­lor, vol­un­teer of Nan­je­moy, help 3-year-old Khamora Tay­lor of In­dian Head spin the wheel to win school sup­plies and other prizes.

STAFF PHOTO BY PAUL LAGASSE

Gary Eisen­braun, left, trea­surer of the King’s Grant Home­owner’s As­so­ci­a­tion, and Lorne Wen­zel grill ham­burg­ers and hot dogs for the Na­tional Night Out cel­e­bra­tions in La Plata’s King’s Grant neigh­bor­hood.

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