Get to Know Your Neighbor With National Night Out
Annual event builds familiarity within communities
Tuesday, Aug. 7
With gardening, house sitting and a huge variety of other things, neighbors are often willing to lend a helping hand. This rings true too, for work making communities safer with the help of United Way of Erie County.
For as long as communities have been a part of human life, neighbors and our relationships with such have been the foundation for community. Neighbors help strengthen towns and cities on personal and larger scales with helping hands and hospitality. Yet this can only be done if one knows their fellow community members.
On Tue. Aug. 7, United Way is inviting nearly 6,500 neighbors from across Erie County to come together for 2018's National Night Out. The event is sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch with an "aim to empower local neighbors, heighten awareness of crime prevention and reinforce the spirit of community," the United Way, who has supported the event for 14 years, said in a press release.
While NNO has been a part of Erie's annual event calendar since the 1990s, United Way Erie has been a part of the annual event since 2004, providing funding to organizations and neighborhood associations annually. The first National Night Out was held on Aug. 7 in 1984. Across 23 states, 2.5 million Americans came out to participate. Today, NNO is a part of 16,000 communities and 38 million people from every state in the nation, U.S. territories, some Canadian cities and military bases worldwide.
"I've heard people say that they are not as involved in their community as they would like to be," Emily Francis, community impact manager at United Way of Erie County said, continuing on to discuss how the organization and this event specifically are working to "help people make better connections with their community."
National Night Out is an annual event designed to stregthen community connections.
The Pennsylvania Youth Survey — a survey given bi-annually to young people in Erie County — concluded that local youth do not feel connected to their neighborhoods and that they are looking for ways to get involved. Research shows that making these connections lowers the risk of youth being involved in risky behavior and activities.
In addition to NNO being an opportunity to meet neighbors and form connections, NNO events involve police departments, fire departments, and elected officials, and features free activities and food. "Things like this help to start conversations that are crucial to strengthening our community," Francis said.
"As you're having conversations with your neighbors, a lot of people can expect to see brochures or pamphlets for social service agencies and health information," Francis elaborated. "They're able to connect with local resources as well (at NNO)." — Hannah McDonald
Events will be happening in nearly 20 locations across Erie County. For more information on times, locations, National Night Out or United Way's mission to eliminate poverty in Erie County, visit unitedwayerie.org/nno.