Promoting peaceful partnerships

The Webster County Cultural Diversity Team proudly presents Fort Dodge and Webster County’s ninth-annual National Night Out and Back to School Bash celebration taking place on Tuesday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. National Night Out takes place the first Tuesday of August in more than 16,000 communities throughout America, according to the National Association of Town Watch. This event is designed to promote police-community partnerships, neighborhood unity, and the creation of more neighborhood watch groups. Good police-community relationships are necessary to help in the fight against crime and drugs and ultimately improve the quality of life for everyone who lives in Fort Dodge and Webster County.

The Webster County Cultural Diversity Team is the main coordinator of our Night Out event. WCCDT is a local 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization comprised of a diverse group of individuals who strive to make our community safe, welcoming and inclusive for all people. The Team believes discrimination can be addressed proactively by organizing events and activities that are open to every member of our community, regardless of race, national origin, age, sex, disability, and/or any other personal characteristic or circumstance to which that person was born. WCCDT’s events are designed to bring people together for meaningful, positive interactions in a family-friendly, fun, non-competitive setting.

Our annual Night Out event is held in conjunction with Upper Des Moines Opportunity’s Back to School Bash. This program serves many underprivileged families in our community and ensures all children are equipped with the necessary supplies to start the new school year. For more information or to register for assistance please contact UDMO at (515) 576-7774.

Join us for an evening of fun activities and games, visit with human service providers, and meet the people who serve and protect you – your local law enforcement officers and firefighters. This public safety event is designed to help promote police-community partnerships, expand neighborhood watch efforts, and teach kids a variety personal safety skills from dealing with strangers, to internet safety, fire safety, and more.

Target is the national corporate sponsor of National Night Out. Our Fort Dodge Target store has been very active in helping promote the event, participating onsite to ensure the event runs smoothly, and will once again donate two bikes and helmets for our grand prize drawing taking place at 6:50 p.m. The Fort Dodge Fire Department has also donated a bike this year. Therefore, three kids will leave the event Tuesday night with a brand new bike to enjoy! There will also be a drawing for a new car seat provided by UnityPoint Health EMS services.

In all honesty, we normally see law enforcement and firefighters at work when something bad has happened. This event is a great opportunity to visit with our local “heroes” in a positive, casual, relaxed setting. The crux of our Night Out and Back to School Bash event is this – people come together and make meaningful connections. It’s that simple. Adults might find out about services that are available to them that could really help their home/family situation. Or maybe they visit with an officer and pick up an application for the next Fort Dodge/Webster County Citizens Academy. Maybe they’re interested in starting a neighborhood watch group and now they have an opportunity to personally visit with an officer about it.

Many people go to this event to receive the backpacks and school supplies they’ve registered for with Upper Des Moines Opportunity, but the event isn’t only for those families. It’s open to all people of Fort Dodge and Webster County.

The Dariette is planning to be at our event again with delicious ice cream treats. Holy Trinity Parish and St. Edmond schools plan to have popcorn and sno-cones. There’ll be a variety of kids’ games, activities, and other goodies to take away from the event. The Fort Dodge Fire Department will be providing Smoke House and fire truck tours. We’re excited to have the Iowa Army National Guard’s climbing wall there this year as another activity for everyone to enjoy. Sparky the Fire Dog and McGruff the Crime Dog may both make an appearance. It’s sure to be a fun time for all.

This event is made possible in part due to grant funding from Fort Dodge Community Foundation and United Way. Our National Night Out and Back to School Bash event is just one of the many positive projects that make Fort Dodge a great place to live. The collaborative spirit that exists to make this event happen each year is truly outstanding and clearly demonstrates the power of partnerships. It is the hope of all organizers that through this event we can expand partnerships between law enforcement and community members and grow the number of active neighborhood watch groups in Fort Dodge.

Jamie Anderson is chairperson of the Webster County Cultural Diversity Team.