Community comes together for annual National Night Out
By BRITTANY FHOLER
Several local neighborhoods and a couple of churches held their own block parties Tuesday evening as part of the nationwide National Night Out initiative.
National Night Out was founded 35 years ago as a “community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live,” according to the National Association of Town Watch website. Thousands of communities from all 50 U.S. states, U.S. territories and military bases worldwide participate on the first Tuesday of August, with Texas communities taking part on the first Tuesday of October.
Copperas Cove had seven block parties held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., according to Copperas Cove Police Department Public Information Officer Sgt. Kevin Miller. Of those seven, two were held at local churches: Robertson Avenue Baptist Church on Robertson Ave and First Assembly of God on F.M. 3046.
Miller accompanied McGruff the Crime Dog to each block party, including the one held at Robertson Avenue Baptist Church.
On the importance of the National Night Out neighborhood block parties, Miller said he thought they were “vital for our community.”
“For our community to prosper, you have to establish these relationships, whether it’s with the police with the citizens or the citizens coming together,” Miller said. “We have seven events tonight and it’s just fantastic to see that outreach and the community coming together, so we’re very humbled by it and very fortunate to live in this community.”
The city held their 21st annual National Night Out Kick Off party on Saturday evening, which saw nearly 2,000 people come out, Miller added.
Inside Robertson Avenue Baptist Church, hamburgers and hot dogs, chips, pasta salad, chili and several dessert items, including a special sheet cake, were available for anyone who walked in.
Monica Huereque, who was in charge of the food, said that the church provided the hamburgers and hot dogs and that other members were asked to bring in the rest of the food.
“It was just basically to come and get to know our community, open our doors, say hello to people that we haven’t met before, you know see, our church members that haven’t been here in a while,” Huereque said. “Just to have fun.”
The church has participated in National Night Out for the past four years, according to Cecil Burrows, the sound engineer for the church and coordinator of the block party.
“Why not?” Burrows said when asked why the church participates. “It’s a chance where everybody comes out to meet everybody.”
The whole idea behind NNO is to go out and meet neighbors, Burrows added.
“We’re here,” Burrows said. “We’re part of the neighborhood. We live here just like everybody else. We want to let them know who we are, what we’re all about, you know, they can come be part of our family, our big family.”
Burrows invited Paige Lindley-Mosebar and her mother, Krista Lindley, to come sell lemonade outside the church during the block party, offering an extra refreshment for visitors, with proceeds going towards childhood cancer research and AT/RT research specifically.
“We came up with the idea because of Alex’s Lemonade Stand and my little brother died from cancer,” Mosebar said, referring to her brother, Brennan Mosebar, who died at six-months from complications from a type of brain cancer called AT/RT (atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumor).
Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation is an organization that is dedicated to raising money for cancer research, funding more than 800 research projects nationally, according to their website.
Lindley explained that they have been allowed to use Alex’s Lemonade Stand branding for their own lemonade stand and are raising funds to go towards Cure AT/RT, a nonprofit dedicated to funding treatments and research for a cure for AT/RT.
“We’re doing it for solid brain cancers, which I guess we’re most passionate about because we lost our son to AT/RT and we also want to just, no matter what, raise funds for childhood cancer because only 3.8 percent of the National Cancer Institute’s budget goes to researching childhood cancers,” Lindley said.
Every $50 equals one hour of research, Lindley added. Mosebar held a lemonade stand last weekend and managed to successfully raise $141, which was the equivalent of three hours of research.
Lindley said they are new to the area and weren’t aware of the National Night Out until Burrows approached them but said she appreciated it.
“I think it’s wonderful to get the kids out, and we saw the police officers and the fire truck,” Lindley said. “It looks like the kids had a really great time.”
Out past City Park, in the 400 block of Saddle Drive, neighbors got together for their first official NNO block party, with the help of CCPD Officers Dexter Ferdinand and Jose Cazarez. The neighborhood is in the assigned sector of both officers, Ferdinand said.
“Since this was the first time, I just wanted to get a feel of how it was going to be,” Ferdinand said. “So basically, it was just neighbors coming by, introducing themselves, meeting other neighbors.”
The ends of the street were blocked off and free food flowed to anyone who stopped by.
Neighbors were also signed up for the Cove Watch program organized by the police department.
Resident George Haywood estimated as many as 90 people showed up at one point. The neighbors also were visited by members of the Copperas Cove Fire Department and McGruff the Crime Dog.
Officers Ferdinand and Cazarez also discussed with residents what is available in the community as well as ways to better interact with the police department, Haywood said.
“What we see is the police department is making every attempt they can to communicate to the communities,” Haywood said.
Haywood, who is former military, said he was stationed at Fort Hood from 1996 to 2002 and retired in Cove in 2007.
“This is the most police presence I’ve seen that’s interacting with people,” he added.
He said he thought it was a good thing and that the community needs to be open to helping each other and being more proactive in their neighborhood.
“The world around us is changing, not necessarily for the better, but I think it’s a great thing what the police department is doing,” Haywood said.
Ferdinand added that the goal is not just to have more police officers interacting with the public but to have more residents stepping up as well.
Haywood shared that some residents are already planning for the next one and requesting the location be moved to another part of the street.