National Night Out

The event promotes relationship-building between residents and law enforcement

The Auburn Housing Authority (AHA) will host its annual National Night Out event on Thursday, Oct. 10 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. outside of its office at 931 Booker St., near the Ridgecrest Community Apartments.

The event is coordinated to kick-start better connections between local law enforcement and residents of AHA communities.

"This event is to build community between the police officers and the residents and to fight crime," said Charlotte Mattox, social services coordinator for AHA. "In order to do that you build relationships between the residents and police officers.

"I think (the event) let's people know that the policemen aren't bad guys; they're actually there to help. The kids, they need to learn that the police officers are there to protect them."

National Night Out will have a little bit of everything this year. Activities like a photo booth, obstacle course, petting zoo, inflatables, basketball and other yard games will be offered and will provide an opportunity to police officers to socialize with kids and families. There will also be a cookie walk, face-painting and hamburgers and hot dogs for participants to enjoy.

Entertainment will be provided by a disc jockey, a singer and a piano player, and Aubie will be there to interact with the kids.

Local organizations will also be on site offering information or services to residents.

Mattox, who has organized Auburn's National Night Out for the past six years, said the event is also a way for residents to develop friendships with the staff of the AHA, as well as their neighbors.

"People have lived in the same unit for years and years and years and don't know their neighbors," she said. "I love people, you know, and it's our way as the Housing Authority to get to know our residents, too. So they don't see us as people who are just behind desks; they actually see us as human beings and their friends. We're not here to say, 'Pay your bill,' but we actually care for you and care what's going on in your life."

Those who drive to attend the event can park at the True Deliverance Holiness Church on North Donahue Drive. A shuttle will then be provided to transport people down to the event.

In the past, hundreds of children and adults have attended National Night Out, which used to be held in August. Mattox said she knows the residents look forward to the event each year because when it was moved from August to October two years ago, she had people calling her worried that it wasn't taking place.

"When we changed it to a later date, we got complaints as to why it wasn't happening," she said. "So we know that when it doesn't happen, people complain.

"I'm really thankful that we get to have this event and we get to have it here because not a lot of cities get to have it at their AHA (office). This is easier for our people to come. It's just right here."

For more information about the AHA, visit auburnhousingauth.org.

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