SAN ANTONIO -

In the spirit of the Fourth of July, a couple of neighborhood associations told their stories about how they made their communities a safer place.

"We used to hear gunshots at night sometimes, but that's gone now. It really has changed," said Juan Garcia, president of the Dignowity Neighborhood Association.

He moved into the near east side neighborhood in 2007, he said, and joined the neighborhood association shortly after. 

"(Between) 30 and 40 people attend our meetings now," he said, citing the group's recent expansion.

Up Highway 281, on the far north side, Ron Simmons recounted how he created the Saddle Mountain Neighbor Facebook page.

"We post things about suspicious activity in the neighborhood, maybe a house getting broken into," said Simmons.

Though miles apart, the missions are the same: the men want to bring people together via meetings, emails, postcards, and Facebook, with the goal of creating a safe place to live.

"Folks here watch out for each other. Everybody keeps an eye on things," said Garcia.

New websites have made joining and created neighborhood associations even easier. 

Neighborhoodlink.com allows users to type in their zip code to see if any associations have been created nearby. Users can also create their own website for an association for free.