Those honored come from all corners of the city; this year there were two notable honorees in Southeast

DAVID F. ASHTON - Commissioner Amanda Fritz presents the 2016 Neighborhood of the Year Spirit of Portland Award to Foster-Powell Neighborhood Association Chair Brian Balla, Past Chairs Christian Smith and Erika Bjerning, and Board Members Ellie Russell, Natalia Barwegen, and Rebecca Lavelle-Register. At the 32nd annual "Spirit of Portland Awards", held on December 13 at the Doubletree Hotel in North Portland, two Inner Southeast Portland entities were honored by Portland City Commissioners Amanda Fritz and Dan Saltzman.

"Neighborhood Association of the Year"

Commissioner Amanda Fritz announced that the Spirit of Portland Neighborhood Association of the Year award was being presented to the Foster-Powell Neighborhood Association (FPNA).

Fritz told how the FPNA promotes positive change within their area, and has worked to enhance a sense of community through projects and events supported by the neighborhood association.

"They facilitate communications between residents and appropriate agencies for addressing various livability concerns," Fritz said "The Association strives for inclusiveness and engagement of all people [while being] one of Portland's fastest-growing neighborhoods."

Accepting the award was FPNA Chair Brian Balla. "This Award symbolizes all the hard work that we've done over the years to create an inclusive environment for all of our neighbors," Balla told THE BEE. "It represents many hours of volunteer service trying to create a neighborhood for all, not just a few people.

"We have a very diverse neighborhood," Balla added. "There are a lot of livability concerns that come because of the many new families moving here. We are really focusing on making it a place where all people can live, feel safe, and feel welcome." Learn more about the FPNA at their website:

"Business of the Year"

Later in the program, Commissioner Dan Saltzman presented the Business of the Year Spirit of Portland Award to "People, Places, Things", also located on Foster Road.

Though his business, "People, Places, Things", headquartered at the Portland Mercado, Patrik McDade and his partners "provide English language learning programs for adults that bring education to an under-served, highly-diverse population," Saltzman commended.

"This model uses real-world materials, such as a curriculum, and proves to be effective in overcoming common barriers, such as culture, legal status, ability level, and income, to bring people together and build multi-ethnic communities that celebrate their diversity."

After McDade received his plaque, he told THE BEE why his organization chose not to be set up as a nonprofit organization. "We wanted to invite lots of people to participate, so I needed to share ownership – and you can't do that in the same way, using other kinds of organizational structures.

"So, we've brought in a number of leaders, who are also learning to teach classes, into what is actually a professional guild of people who are supporting each other for economic benefit, but also for the benefit of immigrants and refugees," McDade added. "It's for anyone who wants to cross bridges and live in a multicultural society like we do."

Find out more about this unique organization online:

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