I just finished reading your op-ed about NNO and I have to beg to differ with your facts on it. First, no one in Gonzales had ever put on a NNO until I put the first one on in front of the Gonzales Inquirer last October. Not only did we host it in front of the Inquirer, we promoted it as an event to the community from the Inquirer as well as the City of Gonzales Police Department. Last year, with little planning, we received support from a variety of local businesses by way of products we could give away that night, HEB, LaBella Tavola, Walmart and others. I’d been a part of NNO for several years and was dismayed to see that Gonzales had never put one on. I asked Chief Crow if we could and though he was reticent at first because it was just two days after C&TI, he agreed that it was something our community needed and went to work reaching out to first responders all over the county.
After 150 attendees enjoyed themselves by eating hot dogs, playing on the fire truck, examining an ambulance, getting coloring books, learning about Norma’s house and getting to know their neighbors, we realized we’d need a much bigger place to hold this wonderful event the following year.
Chief Crow wanted it downtown, but with NNO being held before C&TI this year, we weren’t going to be able to access Confederate Square as the set up for C&TI has occurred.
Again, like last year, we have no budget for NNO, but differently from last year, (when I and two other employees of the Inquirer put together an event with Chief Crow rounding up a huge crowd of First Responders), the City of Gonzales Police Department took on the herculean task of reaching out to several businesses and organizations to help put on the event this year.
Lieutenant Tammy West and others have done an extraordinary job of making sure we have plenty to offer tonight. Did you see the sign the Police Department created and posted on Facebook?
There is no charge for NNO and after our first meeting, to ensure that we could contain the event- unlike last year, we decided to hold it in the parking lot of thrive healthplex, something that wasn’t an option to us last year. There is an entire apartment community behind thrive that we hope will attend NNO, a community may not be able to access NNO if we held it in a park a few miles away. There is no spot in Gonzales that is ideal for everyone to hold an event and we are grateful that thrive was willing to share space with us.
With the prediction of an 80% chance of rain during the day today, I’m hoping that if necessary, we can move it indoors, but again, all of this is being put on for our community by businesses in our community and to imply thrive is doing anything other than being generous is disingenuous.
I wish we had a $5,000 budget like Moulton, but we don’t and offering bounce houses here and hot dogs and snow cones and games with no budget is pretty extraordinary.
You write that research could be done about what NNO is — I did that years ago and I was the one that registered with the National Night Out organization because I believe Gonzales deserves this special event. Me running a non-profit that is connected to thrive is inconsequential, everyone involved tonight is volunteering their time.
This event is being spearheaded by our police department, thrive got involved because I asked them to be involved, to hold it there, a place with easily accessible bathrooms if needed. I’m incredibly proud of the efforts put on by Lieutenant West and Shawntel Missildine of thrive and all the other people working so hard behind the scenes.
I’d hope the Inquirer would partner with us in some capacity, ideally by sharing the information with the community that a free event with food, games and the chance to meet their first responders was happening in a parking lot of a local business. Or post it on your Facebook page.
Yet, you chose to criticize the efforts of our Police Department and several businesses that have stepped up to help, like GVEC, Walmart, HEB, Gonzales Healthcare Systems and others. The Noon Lions Club Leos and the Junior ROTC called after they got my initial email, which I sent to you as well about NNO. They are coming. State Rep. John Cyrier heard about the Gonzales NNO and has said he too will attend.
Strangely, you use the word “assessable” often in your op-ed. I think it was less a typo than a Freudian slip. If you want to make our community better, do something instead of judging those that are trying to do so.
Kelly A. Lindner