Lauren Smoot, National Night Out


Lauren says the goal of National Night Out was to increase safety awareness, help prevent crime and boost the neighborhood spirit.

Lauren successfully reached out to Fresno State students to help out with National Night Out.


Meet Lauren Smoot. Lauren is the Community Affairs Coordinator for the Fresno State student body. She organized a local celebration of National Night Out (NNO) with the help of the Boys and Girls Club of El Dorado, local businesses and organizations and other community members. Approximately 350 community members participated in this event held on August 2nd at Wesley United Methodist Church in El Dorado Park. El Dorado Park has been the target neighborhood for the movement to revitalize the Fresno State area.



NNO is an annual nationwide event. Residents of are given the chance to interact with their community leaders at a block party. Lauren says the goal of this event was to increase safety awareness, help prevent crime and boost the neighborhood spirit.



After the drive-by shooting outside Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity, Fresno State students have collectively fought to revitalize the surrounding area. I first talked about these efforts and future plans on That Fresno Blog. One of the projects in the making is to have a neighborhood watch around the Fresno State campus. Fresno State student, Craig Parks, stumbled upon NNO while researching for more details about a neighborhood watch. Lauren says NNO was a great opportunity for Fresno State students to reach out to surrounding communities. It is believed by the students I talked to that this is the first time anyone has hosted an NNO in the Fresno State area.


Left to right: Jim, Craig, Maddie and Dr. Paul Oliaro. All have been active in the movement to revitalize the Fresno State area. This is as candid as it gets.



The community’s reaction to the event was mostly positive and neighbors expressed interest in helping out with future projects. Even a handful of kids stayed to help clean up trash, Lauren says.

Lauren is hoping that NNO will be hosted in El Dorado again next year. Plans are also being made to host similar events throughout the year.

NNO was definitely a great place for Fresno State students to introduce themselves to residents of El Dorado Park. I had the lovely chance of meeting Brenda and Jackie. Both are residents in the area. They appreciated this event unique to the area and had a few things to say about the recent push for revitalization.

Jackie- Jackie regularly walks around the neighborhood and talks to residents to get a better idea how the area can improve. She says that the most important thing on the residents’ minds is survival.

Jackie does not support the efforts to kick gang members out of the surrounding area. She says most gang members have families of their own and pushing them away will leave a lot of  children without a home.

Larry Westerlund, City Council Representative for the district, is waiting for an estimate for more lighting in the neighborhood. Jackie says community members do not need to wait and can make a difference by making El Dorado Park more aesthetically pleasing. One idea she is for landlords to pay people to clean and paint dumpsters for a cheaper price than having the dumpsters replaced. The money raised can then be given to local organizations working on revitalize the neighborhood.

Out of the 36 or so properties in El Dorado Park, Jackie says she has only met with five landlords to discuss ways to improve their properties. Not enough landlords are wiling to do their part to improve the area, in Jackie’s opinion. She says government officials should put more pressure on landlords to follow to city codes by catching violations more and fining landlords. Revenue generated from the fines can then be allocated to the government’s effort to clean the area.


Jackie, a nearby resident, had plenty to say about recent efforts to revitalize El Dorado Park. I'm looking forward to talking with her more about her ideas for the El Dorado neighborhood!


Brenda- Brenda has lived in an apartment in El Dorado Park for seven years. She has a two year-old daughter and a baby on the way. If the community wants to improve the area, she says, the most important thing to focus on is the children. Although the church provides a basketball court and a play-area, there is still little for kids to do. She has observed several children hanging outside and interacting with gang members. This bad influence has transformed a lot of neighborhood kids into gang members.

Brenda says there has been a lot of outreach to children from organizations over the past few years. In the future, she would like to see clubs from Fresno State talk to kids in the area and let them know that it is possible for them to obtain a higher education. She says a lot of kids in the neighborhood do not see any point continuing school, because their families can’t afford it. As a result, they are unable to move out of low-income areas.


Here are more photos of people enjoying their night:

There were several events for people of all ages, such as the potato sack race.


A few Fresno State clubs participated in the event by hosting different activity booths, such as the arts and crafts table.


She knows how to keep herself cool from the summer heat.


Some kids were a harsher critic of the event than others. You can't please everyone, I suppose.

You can view more photos of the event on my Facebook page or you can look at far more pleasing photos of the event on Dog Prints’ blog.


Have a lovely day in Fresno!

Veronica Stumpf



4 Responses to “Lauren Smoot, National Night Out”
  1. Craig says:

    Great post Veronica. Thanks for helping spread the word!

    • Veronica Stumpf says:

      No problem Craig. You, along with ASI have done a wonderful job making people interested in El Dorado Park. I think it is very important for younger people like Fresno State students to dive into the efforts to revitalize the area. I want to thank you for keeping me and everyone else updated on how we can be more involved.

      It was lovely meeting you and I’ll be posting more on this topic.

  2. Dan says:

    I think the process of revitalization takes time, however the most important thing to do is get the residents involved then focus on businesses. Business will drive revitalization because they will infuse cash and offer goods and services that people want. As the businesses improve their locations

    • Veronica Stumpf says:

      Most definitely, Dan. That time spent waiting for the government to act can be invested in improving the area yourself. It’s a project that needs to help of the community to finish.

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