Our view: National Night Out helps build community

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An Alexandria Police Officer grill burgers for attendees of the Charles Houston Rec Center National Night Out block party. (Photo: Missy Schrott)
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Two significant numbers this week in Alexandria are 35 and 36.

Tuesday was the 35th annual National Night Out, which is a nationwide crime and drug prevention effort sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch. And, as of last week, 36 distinct communities in Alexandria had signed up to participate.

Each number is important, for different reasons. When any event survives for as many as 35 years, as National Night Out has, then it’s likely worthwhile. By partnering with public safety agencies – Alexandria’s police and fire departments and sheriff’s office all participated – NATW helps make communities active contributors toward their own safety.

That 36 separate communities within the city took part in National Night Out indicates a significant buy-in from Alexandria.

The list of participating communities stretched from the heart of Old Town to the Landmark Mall area in the city’s West End. Participation ranged from turning on porch lights to neighborhood cookouts and block parties.

Five properties owned by the Alexandria Rehabilitation and Housing Authority, which provides rent-controlled housing to low-income residents, took part in the event. Several other gatherings were held at city parks and apartment complexes.

Not surprisingly, the Alexandria neighborhood with perhaps the city’s strongest sense of community – Del Ray – had numerous participants, including the 500 block of Luray Avenue, the 400 block of Howell Avenue and the Del Ray Citizens Association. Gatherings were also held at the Father Rankin House in the 300 block of Duke Street in Old Town, the 1400 to 1600 blocks of Oakcrest Drive and by the North Ridge Citizens Association, and numerous other points around town.

Various segments of the police department, including the K-9 Unit, Bike Patrol and Crime Scene Mobile Lab, toured around the city and made appearances at many of the gatherings, as did fire engines from several city stations.

Though the Town Watch program is a year-round initiative, it takes special events like National Night Out to make people stop and think about what each of us can do to help with crime prevention and to build partnerships that will hopefully last beyond the one night.

We need more events that help build community, and this one is useful.

A haven for senior living

The grand opening last month of the new Silverado Alexandria Memory Care Community was the most recent addition to Alexandria’s impressive, and growing, cadre of communities that cater to our city’s older residents. The Silverado community provides care for up to 65 seniors with Alzheimer’s Disease or other memory-impairing conditions.

Earlier this year, Brandywine Living opened in the West End with a memorable grand opening party that showcased the 116-suite community’s many amenities. Sunrise Senior Living plans to build a new facility in Old Town, which will be their second within Alexandria city limits.

These newcomers join existing senior communities such as Hermitage, Goodwin House and Woodbine within the city, and others like Paul Spring just beyond Alexandria city limits.

While the Millennial generation may currently capture most of the media’s attention, this rapid expansion of senior living opportunities in Alexandria – and nationally – is all about the Baby Boomers. Those from the generation born roughly from the late 1940s to the mid 1960s are reaching the age where they may be considering senior living opportunities.

Judging by the communities, new and existing, in Alexandria, they are going to be pleased with their options.

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