Residents all over Enumclaw descended on at least a dozen neighborhood gatherings Tuesday as part of the campaign organized by the local Linking Civility, Compassion and Kindness (LINCCK) task force under the Enumclaw Regional Healthcare Foundation.
The idea behind them was simple. According to LINCCK task force chair Trip Hart, when people know who their neighbors are, the neighborhood -- and the community as a whole -- is healthier. Whether it's helping keep an eye on neighborhood children, on a neighbor's home when they're out of town, or being there to check on an older neighbor during a natural disaster, the community benefits when people are engaged with each other.
This was why Troy Couch, along with neighbor Bob Baer, wanted to help organize an event in his Melody Park neighborhood. "We just felt it would make the neighborhood safer, to know your neighbors, to know their patterns and to know when something is wrong," Couch said. Having lived in his home for 22 years, "I just wanted to meet my neighbors," he said.
Neighbors Night Out is associated with National Night Out that occurs across the country, this year also on August 7, said Hart. While the national campaign focuses more on crime and drug prevention, the Enumclaw neighbors campaign covered a broader scope of community well-being and this year included an emphasis on emergency preparedness. In times of disaster, for fellow neighbors.
Informational brochures, packets and even emergency whistles, flashlights and a can opener were given out at many of the gatherings Tuesday, including one with about 50 people in the Glacier Vista neighborhood.
Cathy Matson organized this gathering and said there appeared to be several neighbors who were interested in organizing a community plan in the event of a disaster.
For many of the neighbors in the Melody Park area, however, this was their first year to venture off their properties to meet each other. Debbie Couch took a walk down the street with neighbor Ofelia Martin del Campo to do just that. "I think it's nice to be able to meet and talk to people you really wouldn't meet otherwise," she said. People are busy and the schedules they keep make socializing difficult.
Jeana and Calvin Gerber said they often take their four kids for walks through the neighborhood and took advantage of Tuesday's event to meet their neighbors. Having their neighbors help keep an eye on their kids was important for them, they said.
Dennis Carlson, who keeps his own bees for honey, has lived in his home for 19 years and said he still didn't know all of his neighbors. Very few people are friendly in the sense that he's used to coming from Billings, Mont. He owned a paint store back then and used to know every single customer and greeted them when they entered, he said. That doesn't happen often now. "People are friendly," he said. "But you have to be the aggressor. Very few people even say 'hi.'"