Betty Taylor is a self-described calm person — until she begins to talk about her passions.
At a recent interview, the 17-year Federal Way resident excitedly spoke about National Night Out, a nationwide celebration of community. And she wants to make sure you know about Federal Way’s festivities.
“I love community. I love bringing people together,” she said. “I love networking and collaboration. Night Out is special, and it’s always been special to me.”
National Night Out is not just one neighborhood, one city, or one state — it’s a nationwide campaign for people to build community, promote police-community partnerships and enjoy neighborhood camaraderie, according to the website.
The annual event is held the second Tuesday of August, and Taylor, the Mirror’s two-time Citizen of the Month honoree, is gearing up for the Aug. 6 celebration.
“Getting the word out is important,” she said. “I don’t want people to not know, or for it to pass and you to not even know it happened.”
For more than a year, Taylor has been working with a passionate team of volunteers to organize this year’s free event at Town Square Park from 4-9 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 6.
“People don’t realize what goes on behind the scenes … that’s where the real work is because it takes people, it takes minds, it takes thinking, it takes tons and tons of meetings …”
In 2017, Mayor Jim Ferrell asked Taylor to take the lead of Federal Way’s National Night Out. Each year, it’s reached new heights of participation.
The numbers keep growing, Taylor said. In 2017, the Night Out event at the park hosted about 200 attendees and the following year, more than 300 people enjoyed the celebrations.
“This year, our goal is 500 and more,” Taylor said. “It would be good if the whole city of Federal Way would totally get on the hook and get involved.”
The Town Square Park event is not meant to replace any intimate neighborhood events, it’s simply an option for people to attend if their neighbor isn’t hosting an event.
“If you don’t have Night Out, then you’re welcome to come to ours,” she said.
Taylor said 29 neighborhoods in Federal Way will be hosting Night Out events, from block parties to barbecues to parades to simply meeting-and-greeting the people on your street.
“If my mouth was big enough, if I had a megaphone, I would just ride in a car and announce it all day, just ride up and down the street,” she said. “‘You don’t wanna miss this!’ I might just do that.”
It may seem crazy, she said, but “if you want to get things to happen, you have to step outside the box, do something that’s never been done before.”
Taylor said with a laugh as she opened her overflowing binder and presented National Night Out to-do lists, agendas and day-of plans: “What work have I been doing on this? Are you sure you want to ask that?”
This year’s Aug. 6 event will feature live and local entertainment of dancers, singers, rappers, spoken word presentations, vendor booths from community and resources groups including Federal Way Public Schools and Empowering Youth and Families, and more.
There’s truly something for everyone, Taylor said, adding there will be face painting, a children’s area and games for all.
South King Fire and Rescue and the Federal Way Police Department will also be at the event for people of all ages to ask questions and explore first responder vehicles.
Taylor’s daughter, Selena Taylor, will be the emcee of Federal Way’s National Night Out.
“When you don’t have finances, you depend on your community,” Taylor said.
It takes many behind-the-scenes individuals and generous donations to make National Night Out a success, she noted.
Dr. Dale Clark, executive director of Mom and Me Mobile Medical Clinic, donated all of the food for the Town Square Park event, which includes 400 hot dogs, buns and water bottles.
Taylor said she is so overwhelmed and grateful for the support people have shown so far.
“I’m excited, I’m so excited, I’m exhausted, but it’s for good reason,” she said, smiling.
When asked about her reaction to her July Citizen of the Month nomination, Taylor broke into tears and said she feels “numb … I’m so honored and so humbled.”